Minds In Motion is a program being put out by the Alzheimer's Society of Manitoba in Portage that focuses on fun fitness. North Central Regional Coordinator Jenn Harder says it unites families and communities as well as connects people that are living with mild to moderate signs of dementia, through exercise, socialization, and engaging activities.

She notes there's a free information session this Wednesday at the Herman Prior Activity Centre from 1:30 p.m. till 2:30.

"We're going to be giving a presentation with information about dementia as well as the Minds In Motion program, and the benefits of that program," says Harder.

She explains they're encouraging the public to learn more about the program, and hope to offer the full Minds In Motion version at the beginning of January.

"Minds In Motion program can help participants feel empowered in their daily lives through physical activity, which can help reduce stress and maintain overall health, and staying connected," continues Harder. "Meaningful social activities are very important for people with dementia and their care partners. Staying engaged with activities that challenge the mind, such as puzzles and word games, is very good for brain health. Each Minds In Motion session is going to include 50 minutes of gentle chair exercise led by a trained fitness leader, 20 minutes of coffee and conversation, and 50 minutes of activities that are facilitated by the Minds In Motion staff and volunteers."

Harder says those activities can include music or any other kind of brain games. She notes Minds In Motion also provides access for participants to information about dementia and other Alzheimer Society services, programs, and resources.

The actual Minds In Motion program sessions begin in January at the Herman Prior Activity Centre on Wednesdays. 

"The program gives you the opportunity to get out into the community each week and connect with others who are going through similar situations and experiences," says Harder. "For everyone, including people that are living with dementia, socialization is very, very important."

Harder explains the program does what other fitness programs don't, including physical and mental exercises. It's designed to meet the needs of persons who are living with dementia as well as their care partners.

"In order to take part in the Minds In Motion program, you don't actually need a formal diagnosis of dementia," adds Harder. "It can be for anyone who's not diagnosed, but is experiencing signs of mild to moderate dementia or cognitive changes."

Three areas of focus are covered, including fitness, friendship and fun. 

"Physical fitness is very important, of course, and in this case, it can help improve balance, mobility, and flexibility which all help to prevent falls," notes Harder. "You can also increase muscle strength and endurance, which will help you to continue performing activities of daily living. Physical fitness is also known to decrease stress and promote a sense of well-being through active living."

She explains friendship and connecting with others through this program can do a lot to prevent isolation.

"You can also connect with other people who are living in similar situations and enjoy some fun and meaningful interactions and, hopefully, even some new friendships," says Harder. "It's a fun program. You can stay engaged and be inspired for everyday living, as well as keep the mind active with fun and lively activities."

Each Minds In Motion series of sessions lasts eight weeks and the fee covers two people who can be the person with dementia and their care partner. 

If you're interested you can contact Harder at (204) 239-4898 or email her at jharder@alzheimer.mb.ca.


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