A south Derry care home is encouraging residents to play table tennis as a means of improving life and combating dementia.
Milesian Manor in Magherafelt has even launched its Spring ‘Ping Pong’ Championship to bring out the competitive spirits in its residents.
Gareth Macklin, director, Milesian Manor, explained: “Table tennis is a great fun game, and we as a family have always played in our childhoods and we are even known to have the odd friendly game still now.
“We recently came across ongoing research regarding people living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia benefitting from playing the game, which prompted us to invest in a table for Milesian Manor.
“The game is the perfect activity for older people.
“It is low impact, fast moving, fun to watch and you don’t even need to be able to stand to enjoy the game.
“Playing involves physical exercise, sustained attention, development of visual spatial skills and awareness as well as having the ability to improve hand-eye coordination, develop fine motor skills, increase upper body strength, improve core balance and increase a feeling of happiness through the fun of playing.
“Our residents are absolutely loving getting involved, many of whom haven’t picked up a bat in over 40 years.
“Within a few minutes it all came back to them and they’re really, really enjoying it.”
Mr Macklin continued: “We want to not only give our residents a fun and social way of keeping active, fit and engaged, but we want to actively help to reduce and manage dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms.”
According to research conducted by King’s College London, in partnership with the Bounce Alzheimer’s Therapy Foundation (BAT) table tennis may help improve life for a person living with dementia.
Around 850,000 people live with dementia in the UK.
Latest figures from the Alzheimer’s Society show that nearly 20,000 of these live in Northern Ireland.
Mr Macklin added: “Introducing ping pong into Milesian has given our residents, staff and visitors a great feeling of fun and sociability – with such a positive benefit to people living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
“Friends, family and of course our residents are all invited to enter our Ping Pong Championship and all money raised will go to Age NI, our charity partner for 2019.”
It’s now planned to roll out to the initiative to their other five care homes across Northern Ireland.