Walking to bridge the gap between heart disease and dementia

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Walking to bridge the gap between heart disease and dementia {/lv_default_news_tile}
The connection between brain and heart health has yet again been recognised, with a new initiative to support people with dementia participating in Heart Foundation Walking groups, launched in South Australia.

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The connection between brain and heart health has yet again been recognised, with a new initiative to support people with dementia participating in Heart Foundation Walking groups, launched in South Australia today.

The National Heart Foundation of Australia in conjunction with Alzheimer’s Australia have today unveiled the results of the 18-month pilot program – showing an overall improvement in participants’ quality of life, with notable improvements in the quality of relationships with family and members, and in sleeping patterns – aimed at promoting the simplicity of walking for improving the lives of those living with a diagnosis of dementia.

With a range of new innovative resources developed and training available to support Heart Foundation Walking groups, the Heart Foundation’s National CEO, Mary Barry, said the charity was thrilled to be able to support people with dementia and their carers and help get them walking for both heart and brain health.

“We know that being active is extremely important for keeping the heart and brain healthy and we want to help get the growing number of people with dementia active,” Ms Barry said.

Heart disease affects almost 800,000 Australians and more than 332,000 Australians are living with dementia.

“Research shows that being physically active, maintaining a lively social life and keeping mentally stimulated can all contribute to reducing the risk of developing dementia.”

“We hope this new element of Heart Foundation Walking is an effective and enjoyable way to improve the quality of life for people with dementia, while reducing their risk of heart disease,” Ms Barry said.

Heart Foundation partnered with ACH Group, a not-for-profit aged care provider supporting older people in South Australia and Melbourne, to pilot the Active Body Active Brain initiative.

The project was funded by Alzheimer’s Australia’s National Quality Dementia Care Initiative.

ACH Group CEO, Dr Mike Rungie, said it has been a delight to see older people living with dementia experience such positive health benefits and social outcomes through their involvement in a supportive, community based activity.

Graeme Samuel AC, National President of Alzheimer’s Australia said that increasing public awareness about dementia risk reduction strategies is heartening.

“We have known for some time now that there are small things that people can do in life to decrease the risk of dementia, and it is encouraging to see this message reaching the Australian public. Partnering with organisations like the Heart Foundation further strengthens our messages.”

Heart Foundation Walking is Australia’s largest network of free walking groups with more than 1,400 groups already established around the country.

Heart Foundation Walking is funded nationally by Medibank Community Fund and the ACT Government through ACT Health. The ACH Group is a supporter of the Heart Foundation Walking Active Body Active Brain project.

New resources developed for Heart Foundation Walking dementia-friendly walking groups:

  • Dementia tips and tools
  • Wallet card
  • Magnetic walk reminder whiteboard
  • Pictorial route markers
  • Promotional templates
  • Dementia-specific infographic
  • Dementia online training module
  • A short promotional video

For more information:

  • Those interested in joining an existing free Heart Foundation Walking group, or starting a new one, can call the Heart Foundation on 1300 36 27 87 or visit www.heartfoundation.org.au/walking for more information
  • Your Brain Matters is a program by Alzheimer’s Australia focussing on 5 Simple Steps to maximise brain health. Learn more by visitingwww.yourbrainmatters.org.au

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Media contacts:

Heart Foundation – Dominique Lemon National Media Adviser (03) 9321 1533 Mob: 0411 310 997
Alzheimer’s Australia – Alex Nielsen, General Manager – Marketing and Communications, 0407 232 212
ACH Group – Celeste Lustosa, Communications Coordinator – 0466 519 982