Minds in Motion is the Complete Package
By: Geoff Dale
When Mike McMahon was diagnosed with early-stage dementia last November he and his wife Ruth felt a sense of shock, confusion, worry and uncertainty for the future, so they acted immediately.
“After reading the Alzheimer Society of Oxford’s newsletter we made contact right away,” she said. “Minds in Motion was one of the first programs we learned about and we were game right from the very start.
“There is such a strong social element. You meet people weekly, bond with them and forge new friendships. Our sessions were important in so many ways, providing us the opportunity to talk with and enjoy the company of some very nice folks.”
The innovative program was designed to provide physical activity and brain stimulation for those with mild cognitive impairment, early to mid-stage dementia and their care partners. That much-welcomed connection with those in similar situations brought the McMahons comfort and joy.
“This was one of the best things we did because it’s such a comfort for us,” said Mike, the former principal of St. Mary’s High School. “With my diagnosis there was an initial sense of isolation, but Minds in Motion gave us a feeling of community. There were 16 in our group.
“Not all activities are challenging but they’re fun for everyone so all can participate. Anita, staff and our new friends are wonderful. We love the emphasis on communication and being with others. It’s fun and, as we go to the Y five times a week and I swim, exercise at Minds in Motion is a bonus.”
Pointing to both physical and mental benefits, Ruth explains additional exercises like stretching and simple ball moves have given them greater flexibility with a wider range of motion. Both discovered muscles not being utilized in their regular routines.
“The games are fun, and our brains get exercise,” she added. “I don’t know where and how Anita comes up with so many different ideas for games. We talk about this for days afterwards with friends and family. Mike gained a renewed sense of confidence participating in such activities.”
As well as Minds in Motion, Mike and Ruth speak enthusiastically about other Alzheimer Society of Oxford programs like First Steps. Attending monthly socials and going to lunch with their new friends produced lively chats while enjoying the outside get-togethers.
“I love to talk so I was delighted that everyone was chatting with each other within the opening few minutes of our first session, Mike said. “As I was active in lacrosse and university football and have always been a physical person, I was happy to get involved in the exercises.
“We’re both health-conscious and our snack time during Minds in Motion provides healthy options with time to socialize with our group. We’re not sure of the schedule ahead but we’d love to return because this is so re-assuring. We’ve broadened our circle of friendship through this incredible program.”
“With exercising, socializing, with tasty healthy treats and games/activities for the whole person, Minds in Motion really is the complete package,” said Ruth, with a smile. “Our group of new friends with similar issues has helped us make a rough journey somewhat smoother.
“If there are people at home right now reading our words, we encourage they call the Alzheimer Society of Oxford right away. Don’t be embarrassed. The programs and people there will add so much to your lives.”