The Eastlink Centre will expand its programming this month after partnering with the Alzheimer Society to offer light physical activity and mental stimulation to individuals with early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
The program, Minds in Motion, is the first of its kind for the city, said Bonnie Hein, fitness and wellness supervisor.
“The goal is for these participants to have a more balanced, more alertness, confidence, flexibility, but also have fun at the same time,” she said.
“It's a two-hour, once-a-week program for six weeks; the first part will be a little bit physical, and then there'll be cognitive, where they'll play games like board games, card games, and the Alzheimer's Society lent those to us,” said Hein.
The program goes beyond just helping those with Alzheimer’s but also offering up socialization time for caregivers.
“It's just so nice to be able to have them (caregivers) get together and build a community amongst themselves,” said Hein.
The idea was brought to Hein by the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories, which wanted to coach Grande Prairie personal trainers through a grant the society had received.
Hein says she picked four certified personal trainers to receive the training. She chose them not only for their professionalism but because of their personalities and caring natures.
“They’re all very excited for it,” she said.
She noted that class sizes will be kept small to ensure that benefits are received to those who attend.
There will also be a virtual component for people who cannot make it to the facility, said Hein.
She explained there is a vetting process for those who can enter the program, but it has been “made easy” to register so people in Grande Prairie can call 311 during business hours Monday to Friday. Those outside of the city can call 780-538-0300 to register.
The city has also modified its cancellation policy for this program.
“They can also receive their money back, which is big because the city has to have a cancellation process, but this is kind of exempt; it's not realistic with something like this,” said Hein.
She noted that Alzheimer's can develop quickly, and some people may find this is not the right program for them, which led to ensuring people could get a full refund.
The program will cost $90 for both the patient and caregiver.
The first Minds in Motion program is open for registration and will run on Tuesdays from Sept. 13 to Oct. 18.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News