In 2012 my dear mother was diagnosed with mixed dementia.
Our world was shattered, never to be the same again.
I researched all I could about the disease … searched desperately for ways to stimulate my mum's memory and keep her active and happy.
I discovered 3 Therapies that can help those living with dementia,
Art Therapy, Music Therapy & Pet Therapy and I used all three in our daily routine.
My mum had always been a very creative person, an acomplished artist, seamstress ...
infact she could turn her hand to anything!
I inherited her love of art and graduated in 1984 with a degree in Textile design.
However I put my creativity on the back burner for many years and only rediscovered art
when I found out how invaluable it is for those with memory problems.
I made sure that we always had a craft project on the go … making crepe paper flowers ... hand-made cards .... paper weights from stones & shell craft ... anything that kept her
hands busy and mind active!
For my mum, Art Therapy offered substantial rewards.
While art and crafts could not cure my mum’s dementia, they gave her a way to express
herself, a sense of personal accomplishment, the satisfaction of completion and simply
the joy of the artistic process.
In 2016 I opened an Etsy shop for mum to sell her crafts and donate a % of her sales to the Alzheimer's Society. We have currently donated £1,900 and mum's crafts have brought
happiness to people around the world.
Musical aptitude and appreciation are often two of the last remaining abilities for individuals
with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Music Therapy has been found to improve overall mental and physical well being.
A recent study proves that music boosts brain activity and evokes emotion which can help
an individual recall a memory.
Music connects through emotion and physical closeness (dancing). Music (particularly singing) is engaging and can alter moods, manage stress and creative positive interactions.
My mum regularly attended 'Singing For the Brain' run by the Alzheimers Society and she looked forward to it every month. Not only did she enjoy the singing, but it gave her an opportunity to interact socially with others. We attended other singing and craft groups and
they became very important to us both,
I also played all her favoutite hymns and music from the 40's and 50's in the background
most of the day which she thoroughly enjoyed and found very comforting. She also loved watching Charlie Chaplin DVDs and we played these constantly for her.
Being an animal lover, my mum had always kept pets and she bred Siamese cats
for many years. Our cats loved her dearly and one of them very rarely left her side.
Through research I discovered that there are many benefits to keeping a pet!
- Reduced agitation
- Increased pleasure
- Lower blood pressure
I regularly took my mum to animal parks & petting farms or to feed the local ducks as often
as the weather allowed.
As her Dementia progressed and she became very frail we were unable to attend the
groups or animal farms but there were many other activites that we enjoyed doing together ...
jigsaw puzzles, colouring books, crossword puzzles, watching You Tube funny animal videos and looking at old photographs of her childhood growing up in Canada with her brothers and sisters brought her great happiness.
I cared for both my mum & step dad in their own flat for 4 years and when her beloved
husband passed away in 2018, mum moved into our home and she became the centre
of our world for 3 years until she left us to join her loved ones and animals who had passed before her on the 20th December 2021.