Photo by Sally Jubb.
Susan, 81, was diagnosed with dementia two years ago, although her symptoms were present for longer. Because of this, she and her husband Eddie, 82, struggled to find social activities they both enjoyed and could do together. They go shopping and out for walks, but often find themselves on the couch watching television, leading to increased social isolation.
Memory Spinners is a project for older people living with dementia. It combines music and other art forms to help reduce their isolation and remain creative through a variety of shows and performances. It has been “an amazing transformation” for them both.
Lynne, 47, who is Susan and Eddie’s daughter introduced them to Memory Spinners as Susan has always loved music, particularly classical music and musical theatre. Susan and Eddie have started attending a weekly activity, which has given them a greater sense of purpose and something to look forward to.
The positive environment created by the Memory Spinners has been freeing for Susan. She can now express herself without fear of embarrassment. As a result of these workshops, both Eddie and Lynne have noticed that Susan has been far more animated, energetic and lively since her diagnosis.
It was also arranged for Susan’s grandsons, aged seven and nine, to attend the workshops. This has given the boys a glimpse of their grandma as the person she used to be. She is much livelier, full of life and they are all creating beautiful memories as a family at these workshops.
Susan’s grandsons have developed an increased awareness and understanding of dementia, with other participants benefitting from engaging with the young boys. This new intergenerational environment has brought out a different side of their personalities.
As a result of Memory Spinners, Susan and Eddie have made new friends and connections, which has helped reduce their social isolation. Lynne expressed her gratitude and pleasure after a performance from the group.
“The show was wonderful and it was so soul-touching to see how much my Mum and Dad were enjoying themselves. I thank you all for giving us positive, happy times with my Mum because it has been some time since we were able to relax and enjoy each other's company so freely……such is the transformation, she is a completely different woman who has her personality back. Thank you from my heart.”