Help with dementia care

The Bolton News: At the Bolton Dementia Support Group Christmas party, at Dobbies Sports and Social Club, Radcliffe, are, from left, Harold Grundy, Wilf Madden, Alice Grundy and Christine Madden At the Bolton Dementia Support Group Christmas party, at Dobbies Sports and Social Club, Radcliffe, are, from left, Harold Grundy, Wilf Madden, Alice Grundy and Christine Madden

LIVING with dementia is a prospect many of us fear happening to us or our loved ones.

And with the number of people living with dementia set to increase in Bolton and worldwide — it is even more important to improve care and support.

In the UK, dementia research receives one eighth of the amount of funding that is spent on cancer, which charities say is insufficient.

Yet the Dementia Support Group has been working tirelessly since 2008 to improve the lives of dementia sufferers and carers in Bolton through their support groups and ‘memory cafes’.

Its aim is to ensure people living with dementia are treated with dignity and have their voices heard.

Barbara Clarke is chief officer of the group and first became interested in improving dementia care when she was a care support worker. Both of her parents also suffered with dementia.

Ms Clarke, aged 62, from Bromley Cross, said: “When my father died I thought that was the end of my journey with dementia but then my mum was diagnosed with it and I decided I wanted to know as much as I could about it.

“It is such a difficult illness to deal with and I wanted to gain as much knowledge as I could.”

The memory cafes are held every week at the Victoria Hall in Bolton and at the Horwich RMI Club and are for anyone who is concerned about their memory and how it affects their day to day life.

They provide support for both carers and people living with dementia.

The Dementia Support Group also runs informal weekly meetings and activity sessions — which offer a holistic approach to dementia care.

Ms Clarke said: “We have eight big reminiscence chests that provide holistic therapy for dementia sufferers.

“Quite often people with dementia will be able to remember things from the past rather than the present. For example people can often remember things from the 1940s rather than the day to day things.

“Music therapy is also very popular for the same reason.

“We just want dementia to get recognition as a disability so more people understand it and can therefore get better care.”

Ernie Holden, aged 75, from Harwood, began going to the group when his wife was diagnosed with dementia and now he runs the memory cafes.

He says being a carer can be isolating.

He explained: “It’s 24/7 when you’re a carer because you don’t get a break.

“Quite often carers don’t get a break or any help at all which is why I felt this group was so important.

“There was very little information available about dementia years ago but it has improved.”

Christine Madden, aged 71, from Farnworth attends the group with her friend Alice Grundy, aged 77, whose husbands both have dementia.

Mrs Madden said: “I have been coming here for two years and I persuaded my friend Alice to come.

“It just makes you realise that you’re not on your own. You get to know everyone here and you realise that there are other people in the same position as you.

“Barbara and the other volunteers are fantastic.

“They give all of the group’s such a great time and we just would like to thank them all for what they do.”

People wanting to find out more about dementia can also go to Bolton’s Memory Assessment Service, which is run by Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, where potential dementia patients are referred by their GP.

The service is delivered by a consultant psychiatrist, psychologists, mental health nurses, occupational therapists, carer support workers and a dementia adviser.

For more information about all of the sessions run by the Bolton Dementia Support Group, call 01204 386696.

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