While the Town of East Gwillimbury offers programs and services for seniors, there is a need for specialized programming like that offered by the Alzheimer Society of York Region (AS York), says the town's general manager of community parks, recreation and culture.
“Absolutely, the need is out there,” said Aaron Karmazyn, adding there is room to improve, develop and foster these types of highly specialized programs.
Karmazyn is referring to Minds in Motion, a community-based program that incorporates physical activity and social and mental stimulation for those living with early to mid-stage dementia and their care partners.
The three-hour program runs once a week for eight weeks and provides an hour of physical activity, taught by a certified fitness instruction, an hour of cognitive stimulation that will help rekindle memories, and an hour of social stimulation, including information sharing.
The program will run simultaneously in a number of places in both East Gwillimbury and the Town of Georgina until September.
“This is a specialized program that will improve the health, active living and quality of life for those individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s and dementia in East Gwillimbury, and those who provide support for them,” Karmazyn said.
Andrea Ubell, director, programs and clients at AS York, said Minds in Motion provides people with the opportunity to engage with others who have a similar diagnosis or in similar situations.
"It's also great for the caregivers. It reduces isolation and builds support,” Ubell added.
Minds in Motion was created in 2009 by the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia, which noticed a lack of programming for people with early to mid-stage dementia. It now takes place in six provinces and at 17 Ontario societies.
AS York is bringing Minds in Motion to East Gwillimbury and the Town of Georgina thanks to funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Minds in Motion improves balance, increases alertness and increases confidence in the person living with dementia and builds a circle of support for caregivers. It also sees an 80-per cent return rate for participants, according to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario.
Karmazyn said the town is looking forward to expanding these types of partnerships, particularly with the opening of its Health & Active Living Plaza in Queensville in 2022.
“This is an excellent model that could be expanded upon within East Gwillimbury, in particular at our Health & Active Living Plaza, where we will have dedicated space for groups that we can partner with to provide these types of specialized services. …The town will act as a catalyst to service arrange and position these high-value specialized services in one setting for our residents,” Karmazyn said.
A Minds in Motion program began Feb. 28 in Sharon, with three other confirmed times:
March 19 to May 7 at the Mount Albert Legion, 31 Princess St.
April 3 to May 22 in the Adult Program Room at the Ice Palace in Keswick.
May 9 to June 27 at Temperance Hall, 18974 Leslie St., Sharon.
More dates and times will be released.
It costs $20 per person for each eight-week session. AS York is looking for participants as well as volunteers to help with the program.
Contact Jaime Cruz, Minds in Motion Coordinator, at [email protected] or call 905-726-3477, ext. 234 to register or for details.
~ Lisa Day