The dementia self help project group:
"We live in extra care sheltered accommodation. We meet because we all worry about our memory. Some of us have a diagnosis of dementia, some of us our worried that we might have and some of worried that we might develop it. We meet on a weekly basis to support each other, discuss, share and learn.
Despite this tricky subject we have decided to call ourselves the Happy Days Memory Group. Life isn’t always easy having a positive attitude helps.
There are twelve of us with the average age of 86 The oldest of us is 96 and youngest 74. We also have two people who help us run the group, one a fellow tenant, is registered blind and the other, Cindy describes herself as having mild cognitive impairment as a result of going through the menopause (which she hopes won’t last much longer!)
We are doing this blog because between us we have huge wisdom and ideas we would like to share with you. Though you may wish to respond and disagree with some of the points that we make.
In our first meeting we introduced ourselves. We are using first names and found out what the meanings of those are. Interestingly ALL of us have a relative called John. We wonder if that fact is true of the younger generation as well?
Keeping with the theme of ‘names’ we talked about what makes it hard to remember names and decided there were lots of reasons. Firstly meeting loads of people all at once doesn’t help! especially if it’s in a crowded or noisy venue.. Another reason can be not hearing properly in the first place, that a common problem for at least 4 of us. As a group we came up with different ideas of what might help us. Here are a few (but not all) of them.
• One of us had the idea that we could have photographs of each other and also our care staff. This is where a modern technology helps. Cindy, has an iPhone is busy snapping away and learning how to download, it’s a bit time consuming but she’s nearly there…
• We are also going to ask our carers always to talk when they visit and use their name for example “Hello, John its Grace and I’ve come to help you have a bath”” when they come to see us. This will really help those of us that just can’t remember the name or that can’t see or hear very easily who it is calling. It may seem silly but when you’ve been on your own all morning dozing and day dreaming down memory lane it can sometimes be a bit disorientating as to who someone is.
• For some us of the information just doesn’t stick and it’s hard and upsetting to admit that we do forget the names of our great grandchildren, our grandchildren or even our children, it’s not our fault, and certainly not that we don’t love them. Having photos but also LABELs on the photos with names on them helps.
• Probably the most important point is WE ALL FORGET NAMES- it’s ok to forget, be kind to yourself when you do, none of us remembers all of everything and although it might seem embarrassing its ok ask “Sorry I can’t remember your name or who you are”. It’s not that we are not interested or don’t care we just don’t remember and like a man using a walking stick we sometimes need a helping hand.
We hope these tips might be of helpful to some of you out there . More next time."
09 November 2012