Alzheimer Scotland is due to launch a new project, thanks to a successful bid for funding as part of the NLHF Heritage Horizons Award from the Cairngorms Trust. The unique project will enable people with dementia and their family carers to experience the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors.

Following a successful small pilot group featuring activities including woodlands walks, wildlife surveys and wood carving, plans to open the UK’s first Outdoor Dementia Resource Centre are well under way at Badaguish Outdoor Centre, Aviemore.

Now more than ever, people are looking to spend time in nature. Alzheimer Scotland believes that access to the outdoors is essential for people living with dementia and their carers. People living with dementia can be at risk of becoming socially isolated, lonely and depressed, and as a result often develop an indoor lifestyle. Spending time outdoors can provide instant benefits, including reducing stress and distress associated with dementia, increasing and improving physical activity, providing mentally engaging activities and providing opportunities to learn new skills and hobbies or rediscover old ones. It also gives people with dementia and their family or carers a chance to connect in a different environment and have fun together. Carers who attended the pilot group reported that their loved one is more relaxed and in a better mood for the rest of the day after the outdoor sessions.

Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson MSP, Gillian Council (Alzheimer Scotland), Xander McDade (Chair CNPA Board) and Caroline Clark (NLHF Director Scotland) standing at the tipi

Jan, who’s partner Donnie has attended sessions previously, said “We are very pleased to hear Alzheimer Scotland has been successful in procuring funding for this very worthwhile project. Donnie has always enjoyed the trips up to the Alzheimer Scotland Tipi Days and all the different ways they have both made each session so interesting, these special days have been very much missed in the past months. He is looking forward to them becoming a regular date again, at the new base.”

Martyn Crawshaw, Chairman, Speyside Trust said “Speyside Trust at Badaguish is delighted to welcome Alzheimer Scotland to Badaguish with their successful bid for the Outdoor Dementia Resource Centre. In all our discussions we have been impressed with how far-sighted the Alzheimer Scotland team were in making best use of the Glenmore forest area to benefit all using their service. For over three decades Badaguish has aimed to give people of all abilities support and facilities to enjoy the outdoors and we are pleased that the Outdoor Dementia Resource Centre will allow another group of users to gain ‘green health’ benefits of the local environment.”

Grant Moir, CEO, Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) added “CNPA is delighted to be working in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland as part of our successful NLHF Heritage Horizons Award. In creating a place where people and nature can thrive together, we will also benefit health and wellbeing of our residents and visitors. As we have an ageing population, activities that mitigate or delay the debilitating impacts of dementia will be a key focus. Working in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland we will develop the UK’s first Outdoor Dementia Resource Centre. Closely linked with our planned NHS referral initiatives, this project will create a centre of excellence for outdoor focused dementia activities for patients and carers.'