Dementia Friendly Gym


[Molly]-Anthony, you’re
the type of guy that likes to work out in a gym, right? – For sure. It’s gets the
blood pumping and helps keep me sane. – Right. Well, exercise
is important for everybody’s health regardless of
age or ability but it is especially helpful for seniors and those living
with dementia. However it can be difficult to find a gym environment that’s safe and inviting. – That’s what makes the Pauline Potter Community Fitness Centre at the Northwood Continuing Care Facility in
Halifax unique. It is the first gym in North America to feature a dementia-friendly design. and AMI’s Laura Bain recently visited
the center. – Feeling that
muscle working? – Yeah. – Yeah, we love that feel, don’t we? – My doctor’s
gonna be pleased. – Yes he is. – [Laura] 70 year old Sharon Murphy
is a regular here at the Pauline Potter Community Fitness Center which is
conveniently located in the Northwood Continuing Care Facility where she lives. – Working out is really important for
the elderly. And I proved
that to myself. I experience a
sense of mental and emotional well-being when I leave here. My brain just seems to be more engaged, and more acute. – [Laura] The fitness center was built with accessibility in mind and is open to everyone but it’s the first gym in North America to feature dementia-friendly designs says Fitness Centre Manager Natasha
Handspiker. – This gym was designed in a circular fashion to create an easy flow for people when they came in. The floor is a different color than the walls, the equipment
is a different color than the floor and the walls and that helps with
visual acuities. You’ll see that we have windows on both sides of our gym so we have lots of natural light. Having really great light and less shadows, once again,
reduces falls so we don’t have
tripping hazards and people can clearly see where they
need to go. I think what makes the gym the most accessible though is really our staff. They’re highly trained. – We’re gonna
reach one hand up towards the ceiling one at a time. Let’s try that right now. Reaching it up, good. – [Laura] Fitness Consultant
Donna Hyland is the lead trainer here. She can adapt any exercise to accommodate the person’s ability. – We just try to
have exercises that aren’t complicated for them. Our role here is
to assess them and to try to keep them functionally fit. That is our big thing, is just to get them to move. – [Laura] According to Natasha, the feedback from gym members
is positive. – I hear a lot of feedback from residents who come and they work out and they have
a great time and they have that social connection but who we hear from most is their adult children who see this huge change in how they’re
more social, they have a better outlook on life, and they’re feeling better and they’re doing better. – And I think two more. – Two more? – [Laura] Sharon is grateful for the gym and Donna’s
one-on-one help. – She’s wonderful. The transition to a nursing home, I’ve only been
here two months and trying to make that transition without this, it would have been so much more difficult. It’s just meant so much to me to have this here. It’s just been a godsend. – Good job, Sharon. – Now, I want you to check my biceps. – [Laura] Whoa. Look at those
biceps, whoa. – You don’t wanna meet me in the dark alley. – Sharon’s muscles are impressive. Maybe it’s time for me to up my workout routine. – Well, you have got a lot of catching up to do. Sharon has been
in an exercise program for
over 50 years. And her personal philosophy is
don’t strive to be better than others, be your best self, which I love. – Me too. Hopefully we’ll see more and more gyms incorporate the accessibility and dementia-friendly
features we saw in this story into their designs. – I think the lesson here is to keep moving

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