Last week the Office for National Statistics announced that dementia is now the commonest cause of death in England in Wales. The Guardian newspaper reported that dementia will affect one in three people aged 65 and over and costs the UK more than £26bn.
Britain is becoming more aware of dementia but many people are scared of the disease. Whenever I find myself talking to people about dementia I try to shoehorn positive experiences of living with dementia. I always start with examples here in North Tyneside.
The Alzheimer’s Society runs a weekly Singing for the Brain group in North Shields. It takes place every Monday afternoon in the hall of St Columba’s United Reformed Church in Northumberland Square. Folk living with dementia at home or in care homes attend plus their carers and loved ones. The group is organised by Alzheimer’s Society and supported by a group of devoted volunteers. Once a month the Silver Stars Ukuele Band attend the session and the group get to play with instruments and join in simple line dancing. The group is a lifeline for those living with dementia and their families.
Less than a mile away from St Columba’s is the Methodist Church on Hawkeys Lane where every other Wednesday morning pARTners meet. The group pARTners is a regular art class for people living with dementia. It is run by local artist Val Farrar and her husband Tony. I visited the group last month and found calm, joy and creativity.
In one part of the church hall Val oversees the the art class. Attendees are paired with a volunteer and they sit together painting, drawing, talking and partaking of tea and cake when it is served. In another part of the church hall Tony oversees the tea, cake and chat for the familiy members and carers who’ve come along.
The group is holding a coffee morning with a difference next Wednesday 30th November. There will be tea, coffee plus an exhibtion of the artists’ work, sale of Christmas cards and a chance to share with a representative of Age UK on dementia awareness. If you would like to attend the morning or want to know more about pARTners (as potential attendee or volunteer) then contact email@example.com