For many older adults, a love of golf has been an important part of their social and recreational life. But a diagnosis of dementia can put an end to older adults participating in their beloved sport without appropriate support. In response to this problem, a golf course in Kitchener, Ontario is helping golfers with dementia play at their own pace with the help of volunteers and the city’s Golf Fore Life program.
Expert golfer and novices alike are able to spend a few hours enjoying the game, camaraderie and the outdoors; a welcome respite from the trials of living with dementia. The Rockway Golf course pairs older adults with local volunteers to play nine holes of golf allowing seniors with dementia to recapture the joy they once found in the game. And for those who have never played before, the program offers the opportunity to learn to golf in a safe and supportive environment.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, 564,000 Canadians are currently living with dementia and that number is expected to rise to 937,000 by 2034. More than 1 million Canadians are directly or indirectly affected by the disease and many people living with dementia report they believe that they may be socially rejected or avoided. Inclusive programs help to improve education about dementia and dispel some of the stigmas and discrimination surrounding the disease.
Not only does the Golf Fore Life program help seniors with dementia stay active, but it also offers caregivers a few hours of respite and provides important social interaction. People living with dementia and their caregivers often suffer from social isolation which can lead to depression. The program helps older adults stay connected with their communities and fosters a better understanding of dementia.
The Golf Fore Life program has openings for golfers on Mondays and Wednesdays and is actively recruiting volunteer caddies to help participants navigate the course. Learn more about the dementia-friendly golf program by following this link to the City of Kitchener website.