dementiaUnderstanding Dementia

Dementia is not a disease in itself. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms that occur when brain cells stop working properly. This happens inside specific areas of the brain, which can affect how people think, remember and communicate. There are different types of dementia and it is possible to have more than one type at the same time.

Further information


Local support

There are local clubs and services available for people with dementia, and their carers. For further information, click on the following web pages:

The Horsham District Dementia Action Alliance

The Horsham District Dementia Action Alliance was formed in February 2015. It is made up of local organisations, including some sports and leisure providers, who are committed to making the area a safe and rewarding place for people with dementia to live, work and visit – and for carers to feel adequately supported.

Each member organisation has created an action plan outlining how they will support people with dementia, and their carers. Every individual, club, group, service and organisation has a valuable part to play and if we all work together, we can help to create a truly dementia friendly district. Sport has a role to play in making progress.

A Dementia Friendly Horsham District

A dementia-friendly Horsham District is one in which people with dementia are empowered to have aspirations and feel confident, knowing they can contribute and participate in activities meaningful to them. People with dementia, and their carers, will be consulted and listened to and will feel included in our community.

The Horsham District Dementia Action Alliance is working with a variety of organisations, including sports and leisure providers, to help create a Dementia Friendly Horsham District.

Dementia Friends

Alzheimer's Society's Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people's perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about the condition. Training to become a Dementia Friend only takes an hour and is done by either attending a local session run by a volunteer Dementia Friends Champion or by watching an online video on the Dementia Friends website.

For further information visit

If any sporting organisation is interested in working in partnership with Horsham District Council to provide/improve services for people with dementia and their carers, please contact Ian Ford

Sporting Initiatives for People With Dementia

Southwater Sporting Moments Group

The session is currently FREE and open to anyone with dementia and their supporter.  If you wish to join in, come along to Southwater Leisure Centre on Mondays from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon.

Bring a packed lunch if you wish to join the group for lunch afterwards.

Any enquiries, please ring Know Dementia 01273 494300 or email

To discuss other ideas for helping people with dementia play and enjoy sport and be physically active contact Ian Ford

Articles of Interest

June 2016 - Dementia in Football: FA to Lead British-based Effort to Determine Effects of the Game


The Football Association has committed to leading a British-based effort to find out if heading the ball is linked to developing brain illnesses later in life.

The FA has been in talks with the Professional Footballers' Association about funding research into the issue since 2014 but both have until now tried to involve world governing body FIFA, believing it needed an international approach.

Read the rest of the article from the Evening Standard

December 2016 - New Findings on Physical Activity Could Shape Treatment for Mild Alzheimer's Disease

dementia and physical activity

For older adults, physical activity is apt to shield against cognitive decline and forms of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Yet, as people age and some experience cognitive impairment, they tend to become less physically active.

"Physical activity is very important for brain function," said Amber Watts, assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Kansas. "We know that people who are physically active are less likely to develop AD. But we also know that for people already living with AD, physical activity can help them function better, decline more slowly and help them with symptoms like agitation, wandering and sleeplessness."

According to Watts, too little is known about patterns of activity for people experiencing the early stages of AD. For instance, researchers have lacked useful data about how the progression of the disease itself plays a role in diminishing day-to-day physical activity.

"Part of the issue is they're a difficult population to study," she said. "It's mostly assumed that they're not active, that they don't engage in physical activity, but our research showed people in early stages of AD are capable of being active -- they just need assistance."

Watts, who researches health behaviors, prevention strategies and bio-behavioral processes tied to cognitive decline and dementia, wanted to know if there were differences in physical activity between the two groups.

She recently co-authored research appearing in the peer-reviewed Journal of Alzheimer's Disease that used state-of-the-art accelerometers to track daily physical activity of healthy people and those in the early stage of AD.

"In researching physical activity, people in the past have collected data using body-worn devices like Fitbit and accelerometers that collect data every second," Watts said. "But instead of using all the data, they've summed it into one score over the entire time the person was wearing the device. What we've done is look at variability in physical activity over course of the entire day. This may help us to customize interventions, and it may help us to understand disrupted sleep cycles as well."

With colleague Vijay R. Varma of the National Institute on Aging, Watts analyzed daily physical activity of 92 volunteers with and without AD at KU's Alzheimer's Disease Center in Kansas City. Participants wore Actigraph GT3X+ accelerometers for a week.

"We found people with AD have different daily patterns of activity than people without AD," Watts said. "They spend less time in moderate-intensity activity. But it has to do with time of day. They're a lot less active in the morning, when most people are at the peak of activity -- and that may influence caregivers and people who are trying to help people with dementia."

The KU researcher said understanding this different daily pattern in physical activity could be key to designing interventions and improving sleep for people with early AD, perhaps by targeting more physical activity in morning.

Watts said the kinds of physical activity found to be helpful to people with AD might be as simple as finding time to walk around the neighborhood. Her past research includes studies on the benefits of walkable communities for older adults.

"Walking is actually the best thing," she said. "It's low risk, it's safe, anyone can do it, it doesn't require specific equipment, it can be done anywhere. There are other light-intensity activities like stretching, tai chi, household chores, gardening, walking around the mall -- those are also beneficial. People with AD don't have to go to the gym, they just need to do something that keeps them moving and keeps them from sitting continuously."

Challenges for people with AD to getting physically active include changes to what researchers call "motor planning" that come along with typical symptoms of mild AD, even though gross motor function is largely preserved.

"That's the ability to plan out what movements they will do," Watts said. "There's an interaction between cognitive features and motor features. If you have difficulty with cognition, you have trouble with motor function. For instance, if you want to walk, but fear getting lost, you are reluctant because you need cognition to guide motor behavior. In early stages of AD, people are still high functioning physically, but they perceive it's more difficult to get physically active."

Watts will present her latest findings to the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America in New Orleans on Nov. 16.

She's following up the research with a larger study of volunteers from KU's Alzheimer's Disease Center, which is headed by colleague Jeffrey Burns.

"There will be hundreds who wear accelerometers for two weeks at a time, collecting data, and we'll look at both sleep and physical activity," Watts said. "So we're continuing this line of research to find out more. We're especially interested in how nighttime sleep and daytime activity levels interact and influence one another."

April 2019 - Dementia-Friendly Sport and Physical Activity Guide

A new guide shares good practice and creative ideas from across the sport and physical activity sector. It aims to inform and educate individuals and organisations so they have a better understanding of dementia and how it affects people. It also provides tools and guidance so that the sector can help more people affected by dementia lead more active lives. The guide highlights the many ways that organisations can better support people affected by dementia, so that they can participate in their local community.

The new resource includes ways for individuals and organisations to make their activities more suitable to people who are starting an activity for the first time or after a period of inactivity. It also signposts to relevant organisations and explains where to find more information.

Read the Guide