A friend of mine, Clare, has just completed an art project with the residents of a care home in Aberaeron to celebrate it becoming the first Dementia friendly town in Wales. Clare is a community artist that gets involved in working with people living with dementia to bring out their creative side. Of this project she said, ‘Mosaics take a long time to make, but are brilliant as a shared activity that is fun but not too difficult. The residents, many of whom have dementia, really enjoyed themselves making it, and are very proud of the end result.’‘
It is now permanently sited just outside the doctors surgery, where it will be seen by everyone, and spread the message. We had the unveiling ceremony this afternoon, with the local dementia friends, and the press, and the mayor, and the makers of course. The surgery put on loads of cakes and mulled wine. Everyone loved it!’
This is part of a large scheme in Aberaeron to sustain it as a dementia friendly town. As well as art projects, training and events are put on throughout the year. There is also an Arts in Health organisation called Haul (meaning Sun in Welsh) in which arts of all kinds are used to promote wellbeing and bring people together to share an enjoyable and meaningful experience.
For more information about Clare and her activities please check out www.podcalre.co.uk.
By Ashley Roberts
Posted January 28, 2015
A former resident of Iwade in Swale enjoyed an emotional return to the village this summer, attending the All Saints Church of which she was the warden for over 18 years.
Elaine Bashford from the Dementia Inspired Team arranged a visit for Marie to visit the church after learning that it was one of Marie’s ambitions to visit the Church one last time. Marie was known as a bit of a local celebrity in the area, not only was she the church warden, but a well respected Dinner Lady in Iwade School.
Marie, who now lives in Barton Court Residential Home, on the Isle of Sheppey, visited the church to be surprised by a tea party being thrown in her honour by locals and friends of the Church. A member of the congregation also gave Marie some old photos of the area to reminisce with and she was even presented with a knee cushion that she made during her time as the All Saint’s Warden. The knee cushion was also proudly on display at the Dementia Inspired Art Exhibition earlier on in the year.
My name is Alexandra Thompson and I have been taking yoga into residential homes for the past 8 years, working with people with different types and varied levels of dementia.
These seated yoga sessions have been well received and have proved to be beneficial to participants. They involve breathing exercises, combined gentle movement and breathing and relaxation. These exercises promote a good range of benefits regarding physical, mental and emotional health.
Breathing techniques are a wonderful aide to calming the body and mind and is proven to reduce anxiety, reduce blood pressure and promotes a sense of calm and peace within.
Gentle movement involves various exercises to keep joints and muscles, strong and supple, so participants may retain independence and dignity. Exercise in any form can act as a stress reliever. It boosts your feel-good endorphins and improves your mood. Also physical activity increases self-confidence and lowers symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Also improving sleep which is also disrupted through stress, depression and anxiety.
All this can ease stress levels and enhance a better quality of life.
I finish every session with relaxation which range from cognitive to guided imagery.
Ok….that’s the technical side of things sorted!
I have been so lucky to have worked over the years, with so many wonderful people whether they are residents or staff.
I always introduce myself at the beginning of every session and, to the best of my ability, address every participant by hoe they wish to be addressed and always remember to SMILE! It truly does help put people at ease and also the smile can be quite infectious!
I have found in some groups, at the beginning of the session, perhaps only a few people will join in, then guaranteed by halfway through everyone is joining in and engaged. It is always a joy to see!
I try to make our groups as much fun as possible….laughter being a true relaxant and really is the best medicine. It is always good to see staff joining in too (when they have the time!) as it proves to be a domino affect regarding happiness, peace and tranquillity.
For more information regarding Yoga and Dementia please contact Alex on 07742 111787.
When I was first introduced to Bob I was informed that Bob didn’t talk. I was told he could talk but hadn’t spoken a word to anyone in year. I was told he’d had a rough last few years. After early suspicions of having dementia he gave up driving and soon after that lost his wife. With no family left to support him and unable to live alone, Bob had been moved through three care homes before I finally made his acquaintance.
Bob had also fallen into ill health and he had been described to the staff on his admission that he had simply given up all hope and was waiting to die. When I first met him, Bob was at his lowest point.
I hadn’t worked in the care home long and was still adopting “traditional” activities to conduct with the residents; card games, dominoes, painting pictures, card making, floor games, quizzes and, of course, bingo. Bob was not interested in any of these things and would refuse any opportunity to take part.
So that Bob didn’t miss out, I would clearly have to be thinking out of the box. In fact, I would have to throw the box away.
Back in those days I used to think of myself as a bit of musician. There was an old upright piano in the dining room and on occasion I would sit down some lunch times and play a few tunes. One afternoon, after I had finished playing Bob motioned for me to come over.
‘I didn’t know you played piano,’ he asked me.
‘Well, just a bit for fun,’ I replied. I had playing around with some old blues riffs and asked him if he liked blues music.
‘Nah,’ he grunted. ‘I’m more of a Pink Floyd man.’
Two things struck me that day. One, Bob had started to talk and it was music that was the trigger for this and two, my job had suddenly become a lot more interesting!
‘Pink Floyd’ was not the answer I was expecting. Suddenly I realized that despite whatever age or cognitive ability I was not to underestimate people with dementia.
‘What else do you like I asked him?’
He paused for a moment. ‘David Bowie,’ he replied.
I then knew what I could do for Bob, what “activity” he would like the most. I found an old CD player that was easy to use and set it up alongside his armchair. Fortunately, Bob and I had exactly the same taste in music so I was able to make him copies of my CD collection and bring them in.
From what started as Pink Floyd went to Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Bob Seeger, U2, Dire Straits, The Rolling Stones, Chris Rea, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash…the list was endless.
The staff started to bring in CDs for Bob and his relationship vastly improved with them too. We even encouraged him to attend several concerts, including a Marty Wilde gig in Chatham.
Bob was one of the people who inspired me to re-create a music festival in the care home in which he lived, something he had told me he would have liked to have done. Sadly Bob died in hospital before the event took place, however he went out the way he wanted, with his headphones on and his favourite music playing.
I learnt two things from that experience. That we can all look beyond the traditional type of activities that go on in care homes and learn how to personify and adapt them to each person individually and also that despite how bad it may look for someone there is always hope.
Bob was one of the key inspirations behind our company and we thank him for it.
When I first met Violet I liked her instantly. She has a wonderful sense of humour and, I’m told, is a practical joker at heart. Every time music is played in the care home in which she lives, she is the first to be clapping her hands and tapping out the rhythms on the table. Inevitably this leads her into dancing (usually with the first person she can find).
But it was revealed that she also has an artistic streak too. In 2013 several original paintings were found in a charity shop in Sittingbourne with her signature on them. It had been known that she had taken up painting when she retired however we had no idea of how good she was. The paintings are wonderful; from scenes of market places in a variety of vibrant colours to still life portraits of fruits and animals.
The work was quickly brought into the care home and put on display in a room that she now often frequents with her boyfriend. We asked the family about these paintings who informed us that they had been missing for many years and had perhaps been donated to charity by Violet himself a long time ago.
It was this sudden fortune that gave me the idea to display these art works at a local art exhibition. However, I quickly learn that several people in the care home also were also accomplished painters, seamstresses and artists. The idea for our Dementia Inspired Art Exhibition was born.
What better way to celebrate the lives and achievements of people with dementia, and raise awareness about what goes in care homes that to hold a display for the general public. Our search took us across Swale and we had twenty people, living with dementia, exhibit in our show.
We were fortunate to have Violet attend her first exhibition who met fellow artists and the admiring public. She was smiling and chatting enthusiastically throughout.
For more information on our July Exhibition please click HERE
‘Are you ready Anne?
This was a silly question. Anne was always ready. Shoes tied, coat on, waiting at the door. Always the first to put her name down for trips, Anne was one of the most outgoing people I had ever met. And she was a hundred years old.
‘Do you want to see me touch my toes?’ she would smile before commencing to do so. A century old and she was better at aerobics than many of my friends. But her favourite form of exercise was walking.
As a young girl, she would walk miles with her father and the dogs across villages and fields. She said it was the secret to her long life. That, and Guinness.
One summer I made enquires and discovered that near to where Anne lived a group of people met up every week and held a walking group. It was called ‘Walking for Health’ and people from all ages take part. But none as old as Anne.
Despite her age and living with dementia, Anne was never happiest as when she was walking around the grounds of Milton Creek Country Park in Sittingbourne. She even hit her target of 4 miles and managed to get in the paper. And get a free bag for us to put the water in. Sometimes it’s the small things in life that bring us the most pleasure.