‘Love to Move + Time to Chat’ for older adults in Brighton

‘Love to Move + Time to Chat’ is an age and dementia-friendly weekly seated exercise to music for older adults in Brighton, Hove and Shoreham.

Protecting brain function and increasing wellbeing in Brighton, Hove & Shoreham by getting older adults moving and grooving

‘My mum who has Alzheimer’s absolutely loves these sessions.
It’s a wonderful activity that we can do together, and she really comes alive!’”

‘Love to Move + Time to Chat’, is Home Instead’s exciting age and dementia-friendly programme, launched in September 2022 for older members of our local communities in and around Brighton. The weekly seated exercise to music is followed by refreshments and time to stand and socialise and runs each Tuesday at Southwick Community Centre. It is supported by Sport England and British Gymnastics Foundation.

Exercises are run by Cherry Tolcher from Shoreham and Anna Shaw from Brighton. Cherry says:
“It’s a great way for family and friends to join their loved ones in a fun, positive, and fulfilling session together. One participant describes it as ‘one hour of wonderfulness each week!’”

The British Gymnastics Foundation ‘Love to Move’ programme is specially designed to get older people moving and functioning better. It is founded on a programme delivered within care homes across Japan, the country with the oldest and healthiest population in the world. It has been adapted for British culture and the current generation of older people here. Gymnastic foundation skills, cognitive stimulation therapy and social interaction activities are carefully integrated for this group of adults. It is an interactive programme, incorporating humour and contact through partner activities and memory evoking music.

The Science

Most of ‘Love to Move’ is based on bilaterally asymmetrical movement patterns – where the body’s left side movements do not mirror the right side. Science tells us that this benefits older people and those with dementia and mild cognitive impairment, by enabling the left side and right side of the brain to process information independently. This helps improve cognitive function and ‘reserve’ by firing up more neurons in the brain which allows us to process everyday tasks more easily.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society there is also increasing evidence that building up cognitive reserve over time can reduce the risk of developing dementia. The British Gymnastics Foundation add that Love to Move is beneficial to everyone, “It is believed that doing these exercises can result in an increased number of connections between neurons; helping you to keep functioning when brain disease strikes.”

Other benefits

Age UK produced an evaluation report of the ‘Love to Move’ pilot, finding that, in addition to cognitive benefits, it also has a demonstrable benefit in the physical and emotional aspects of older people. They found a noticeable change in the posture and movement of those participating in the programme. Some older people mentioned that such movements have become easier over time. Those participating in the programme, “also appeared to develop a bond between them, providing encouragement and support to each other.”

Another report on the programme’s ‘Social Return on Investment’ (Parker, 2020), found: “There are so many benefits; this is the kind of programme which should be available everywhere.”

The report also found:

1. 64% Feel Happier
2. 64% Took Part in Other Activities
3. 60% Found It Easier to Connect
4. 52% Socialised More and Made New Friends
5. 51% Made More Eye Contact
6. 50% Were More Sociable with Carers
7. 50% Were More Alert
8. 50% More Interested in What Is Happening Around Them
9. 46% Found It Easier to Communicate
10. 49% Laughed More.

Exercise and companionship are key to a healthy and happy life but more needs to be done for older people in Brighton, Hove and Shoreham, according to research carried out by Home Instead. The home care company surveyed more than 2,000 over 65s. 90% of survey respondents stated that regular companionship would help them to stay mentally and physically healthy for longer. But over a quarter of over 65s reported spending eight hours alone daily, with almost half (49%) of over 85s facing at least ten hours a day alone.

Refreshments are provided after the Southwick ‘Love to Move + Time to Chat’, when time to socialise will give attendees the opportunity to reconnect further to the local community following COVID-19 isolation. Initial reluctance to join from some older people may be encountered, but feedback from participants is overwhelmingly positive. Cherry Tolcher, who runs the Shoreham exercises, says:

“Most importantly the class is about having fun to the tunes of the 1950s and 60s. You really see a difference in people’s wellbeing as they leave the class uplifted. Real friendships have developed through the classes for both participants and carers which is so needed as we move forward from covid restrictions.”

‘Love to Move + Time to Chat’ runs on Tuesdays, 10-11.30am, at Southwick Community Centre, 24 Southwick Street, BN42 4TE.

Sessions run in blocks of several weeks. For further details and to book a place contact Linda: [email protected]

Call Linda now to book your place!

1. Alzheimer’s Society: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/
2. British Gymnastics Foundation: https://britishgymnasticsfoundation.org/lovetomove/
3. Vinal K Karania, Age UK (May 2017), Age & Dementia Friendly Gymnastics Programme An Evaluation of the British Gymnastics Foundation Pilot.
4. Kirsty Rose Parker (August 2020), Love to Move: A Social Return on Investment. The Evaluator.
5. Home Instead: https://www.homeinstead.co.uk/