Study: Winter Physical Activities and Dementia

U of Waterloo researchers seek participants to study winter and physical activity in persons with dementia.

This article was written by a guest contributor, and the views, thoughts and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author.

Physical activity is important for persons with dementia, as it has been shown to help slow cognitive decline and promote independence. Care partners also play an important role in promoting physical activity in persons with dementia, as they often facilitate physical activities and provide companionship.

However, those living in Canada can experience harsh winters. Winter weather has often been noted as a barrier to physical activity, but there has been no further discussion about why winter is challenging for physical activity.

Understanding what factors make it easier or harder to engage in physical activity during the winter will allow us to identify the unique needs for persons living with dementia and their care partners.

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to understand what supports and prevents people living with dementia from participating in physical activity during the winter months.

Study goals

This study aims to better understand:

  1. What challenges do persons with dementia and their care partners face during winter physical activity
  2. What helps persons with dementia and their care partners to engage in physical activity during the winter
  3. What activities persons with dementia and their care partners engage in during the winter

What is involved?

Photo courtesy of Canva.

During this meeting, you will complete a brief demographic survey and a 30–60-minute semi-structured interview. During this interview, you will be asked questions like:

  • What are your thoughts and feelings about physical activity and the wintertime?
  • What activities do you enjoy doing in the winter?
  • What makes it challenging for you to be physically active during the winter?
  • What helps/supports you to stay physically active during the winter?

With your permission, the interview will be audio and video-recorded to ensure an accurate transcription of the conversation can be made to capture all the information you share with us.

Who can participate?

We are looking for persons with dementia or family caregivers of a person with dementia. Participants may enroll as an individual or can be enrolled as a pair. Participants who enroll as a pair have the option to participate in these interviews with their partner or to participate individually.

All participants must:

  • Live in the community
  • Be able to speak and understand English
  • Be able to access and use Zoom using a computer or tablet
  • Live in a region in Canada that regularly experiences snow or ice during the winter months

Persons with dementia must:

  • Be above the age of 55
  • Be able to read and understand the consent process
  • Be able to understand the nature of the interview

Care partners must:

  • Identify as a primary family care partner for a person with dementia or mild cognitive impairment
  • Not identify as someone living with dementia

What will you receive?

Photo courtesy of Canva.

Participants will have a chance to win a $15 electronic gift card to one of Shopper's Drug Mart, Chapters or Amazon as a thank-you for your participation.

Impact

Physical activity is important for persons with dementia, as it can be an enjoyable activity and slows the progression of dementia. However, living in Canada, it is challenging for many to be physically active during the winters, which can reduce activity levels. We need to better understand what makes it difficult for people to be active in the winter.

Identifying what helps or hinders winter physical activity can help inform future research and policy aiming to promote physical activity in persons with dementia. It will allow researchers to create exercise interventions that are seasonally appropriate to persons with dementia. It can also allow policy makers to target key areas of improvement, such as icy sidewalks, to better support winter physical activity.

Important details

You are free to withdraw from the study at any time and for any reason. All your data will be kept secure and confidential.

GET MORE INFORMATION

To participate or learn more about this Winter Physical Activity Study, please email:

Tara Kuhn – tara.kuhn@uwaterloo.ca

Kishoree Sangarapilla – ksangarapillai@uwaterloo.ca

Laura Middleton – laura.middleton@uwaterloo.ca

This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through University of Waterloo Office of Research Ethics (ORE #44166).

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