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23.09.19

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental health and wellbeing.

As the best rugby players in the world represent their nations in Japan, you no longer have to feel bad about sitting on the couch, glued to the TV, watching the rugby world cup for hours on end.

In fact, England’s top dementia doctor has recommended it, particularly for older sports fans suffering from dementia. The nail-biting showdowns can be an effective tool to stimulate brain activity and trigger memories.

Watching sports with others also offered patients value as a way to socialise.

NHS England’s director for dementia and older people’s mental health, Alistair Burns, said: “For people in old age and those living with dementia, memorable sporting events provide a connection with the past, prompt conversations and improve health.”

“Watching classic games and reliving tense moments can stimulate powerful emotional memories which can be revived many years after the events and strengthen brain activity.”

“Helping people live well into old age and manage with dementia are key parts of the NHS Long Term Plan and with the NHS diagnosing a record number of older people with dementia this year, it’s vital we all do what we can to keep our brain active and social networks alive.”

Burns is working with charity, Sporting Memories, which helps older people recall memories of watching or playing sport. The two are encouraging older sports fans to recall historic sporting matches as a way to aid their memories.

Sporting Memories’ co-founder Tony Jameson-Allen said: “We’re delighted to see Professor Burns and NHS England covering this topic at the start of another major sporting event.”

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