Football star, Robbie Savage has announced he is supporting a campaign focusing on dementia and sport. The activity launched by Bupa is urging people to harness the power of sport to help connect with the older generation, particularly those living with dementia. The campaign comes in response to research that shows that eight out of ten people that expect to know someone with dementia in their lifetime wouldn’t feel prepared or would struggle to cope if a loved one developed dementia. The emotions that sport triggers can produce long-lasting memories, making it a powerful subject to draw on when talking to loved ones living with the condition.
Ex-footballer, commentator and radio presenter, Robbie Savage who lost his father to Pick’s disease (a form of dementia) last year, said:
“I know from personal experience how important sport can be in communicating with people living with dementia. My Dad, who sadly died of Pick’s disease last year, was really passionate about football. He was always the one to drive me to football practice and he never missed a game. Discussing the match afterwards always helped us connect. After he became ill, talking about sport always made him light up. Even when his condition was at an advanced stage and communicating and connecting sometimes felt impossible, he would noticeably react when we talked about football.”
The research findings confirm the strength of emotion that sport evokes in Brits:
- Nearly one in six (58%) of us admit to shouting at the TV in the heat of a sporting moment.
- Two fifths (40%) of us have felt ecstatically happy when watching it.
- More than a third of us (35%) credit sport with forming some of our strongest memories
- 42% of people admit that they remember who they watched sport with rather than the games result
However, while the emotional power of sport is clear:
- Only a third (33%) of us are likely to use sport to connect with a loved one with dementia This could be because the vast majority of us lack basic knowledge about our older relatives that would help us to talk about it
- Over 90% of us can’t name a sport our grandparents used to play
- Less than 10% of us can name our grandfather’s favourite sports team
Bupa is urging us all to take action and find out more about our friend’s and relative’s sporting memories so we can use the subject to create a long lasting connection.
“Sport can be a brilliant way to have a meaningful conversation with people living with dementia and it is vital that loved ones have topics like this to connect over. That is why I am supporting Bupa’s campaign. I want to encourage everyone to speak to their loved ones about their favourite sporting memories – knowledge gained now will really help people to communicate with friends and relatives if they develop the condition in the future.”
Commenting on the findings, Professor Graham Stokes, Director of Dementia Care at Bupa Care Homes, added:
“Given how many of us are likely to know someone with dementia, it is vital we find ways to help us to connect with people living with the condition. Discussing or watching sport can tap deep emotional recall, helping them to access powerful long-term memories. This is why we are encouraging people to talk to their loved ones about their sporting interests now. Gaining this information will help people to connect with their loved ones, even if they develop dementia in later life.”
Bupa has produced a series of Sports Cards designed to aid conversation and help people to make connections with loved ones living with dementia.
The Bupa Sport Cards can be downloaded at www.bupa.co.uk/sport-and-dementia
Bupa has also created a Talking Toolkit with further practical guidance on continuing to engage as the condition progresses, which can be downloaded from bupa.co.uk/understanddementia .
 Between 22-25 July 2013, Vision Critical conducted an online survey among 2,030 randomly selected British adults who are Springboard UK panellists. The margin of error – which measures sampling variability – is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.