It’s been a busy couple of dementia days. Yesterday, a colleague and I delivered a Dementia Friends session to 95 year 10 pupils at King Henry VIII School in Coventry. They might have simply been very well-behaved but they did seem genuinely interested in finding out more about dementia. Engaging young minds is so important…and I’m aware how old that statement makes me sound. But it is the next generation and the generation after that who will really face the full impact of dementia. If they care, we have a chance.
Today, I learned more about the Alzheimer’s Society’s Side by Side pilot in Worcestershire. Put simply, Side by Side is an initiative which helps people with dementia to do the things they love by pairing them with a volunteer. A simple idea but so powerful. It’s having a significant impact in three Worcestershire towns – Kidderminster, Evesham and Ombersley – and the challenge is to build the momentum to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of people living with dementia and their carers.
I combined my Side By Side meeting with a visit to Mum who was in good spirits. I spent my time with her cajoling her into eating some lunch. My creative attempts prompted gales of laughter (I really should consider a career in stand-up) but only limited success in clearing Mum’s plate. I wonder if she faced such a challenge in my youngest days. Considering my appetite ever since, I suspect not. These days, Mum mixes the odd “normal” sentence with what appears to me a combination of random sounds, although they might make perfect sense to her. The suddenly:
“You’ve lost a lot of weight.”
Is that a compliment or should I take it that on my last visit, I’d appeared gargantuan?
While I tried to feed Mum and she screwed up her face in protest, other residents returned from their trip to the dining room. One – J – is a lady who has been in the home as long if not longer than Mum. She once asked me out on a date but that’s another story. Today she was singing, quietly to herself. I joined in with a rendition of the song True Love from the film High Society.
We were Kidderminster’s answer to Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly (minus the boat), although – unless my memory is betraying me – I don’t remember Grace adding a chorus of Ding Dong Dell, Pussy’s in the Well. Maybe she should have done although I can’t help suspecting Cole Porter might have been mortally offended if she had.