Easter Ross woodland blazes a trail for dementia sufferers
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A COMMUNITY woodland in Easter Ross is playing its part tackling one of the biggest health and social challenges of the century.
Evanton Community Woodland's new "dementia friendly" status follows a drive by walking charity Paths for All which has helped to make the popular recreation spot more accessible.
Helped by funding of £6000 funding from the Life Changes Trust, Robertson Trust and The William Grant Foundation, the area around the woodland cabin has been resurfaced to make it easier to walk around and new signage installed on the compost toilet and outdoor sink.
Areas around benches have been made wheelchair-accessible to encourage conversations and activities. Staff and volunteers wear uniforms making them easily recognisable if assistance.is needed.
Ian Findlay, Paths for All, chief officer, said: “Improving outdoor spaces for people living with dementia is important to ensure they can get outside to benefit from sunlight, fresh air and sensory stimulation.
"If outdoor spaces are well designed for someone living with dementia, they are well designed for everyone. This is important as Paths for All want more people to benefit from everyday walking. Well designed and maintained paths is essential to making walking an easier option, especially, if you are living with sensory or cognitive decline."
Being active can help improve memory and slow down mental decline as well as reduce the risk of osteoporosis and stroke.
It is estimated that Scotland has around 90,000 people with a dementia diagnosis who could benefit from more everyday walking opportunities.
Simon Harry, Evanton Community Woodland Officer said: “By consulting those who have been touched by dementia, we have been able to highlight, then address, the issues that are seen as major barriers to visiting the woods. We are hoping now to keep the momentum going and look at the next phases of work we can do to further support these visits."
For further information, see www.pathsforall.org.uk/dementiaoutdoors