FORMER PLAYERS TACKLE DEMENTIA IN SPAIN

FORMER PLAYERS TACKLE DEMENTIA IN SPAIN

Former Atletico Madrid defender Roberto Solozabal, a member of Spain’s gold medal football squad at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and ex-Valladolid right back Javier Torres tackle dementia in football-mad Spain.

 

In retirement homes in Madrid, they prod the memories of the senior citizens by asking them questions about famous moments in football. These workshops are held for residents suffering from, or at risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Staff say the activity keeps their minds engaged.

 

Over the course of 12 weekly, two-hour sessions, ex-players use football photos, programmes and memorabilia from days gone by to stimulate the residents’ memories and help them to recall episodes from their lives. While the focus on football is novel, the approach it reflects – known as reminiscence therapy – is common in clinical practice for dementia. Studies have found the therapy improves both cognitive function and quality of life by boosting self-esteem and fighting loneliness, which is common in care homes.

 

The Spanish Federation of Associations of Former Football Players (FEAFV) launched the programme in 2016 after hearing about a similar initiative in Scotland. “Football stirs extremely strong emotions, it is something a person remembers,” says federation president, 77-year-old former Athletic Club defender Juan Maria Zorriqueta. “Football is a tool to wake up memories. It touches everyone, even if it is indirectly. You may not like football, but your partner and your children do,” says the former player, who takes part on a voluntary basis like the vast majority of the other ex-footballers.

 

Staff and family members report an improvement in the mood of the participants. The retirement home’s psychologist, Beatriz Gema Rodriguez Blazquez, says “it helps that football is a topic that they like and are passionate about”.

 

Source: www.borneobulletin.com.bn

editor

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