Improving the lives of people living with dementia has long been one of Alzheimer Scotland’s main aims.
In Falkirk, where some 2600 people have been diagnosed, that work centres on providing a range of community-based groups which allow people with dementia and their carers to enjoy themselves, with others in the same position.
In the last three years, the number of activities has steadily grown to include dementia cafes, football reminiscence groups, a gardening club, 10 pin bowling and a Musical Memories singing group.
A unique collaboration with Westquarter and Redding Cricket Club was also launched last October.
Try Something New is held once a month, offering those with dementia, their family and carers a chance to try their hand at a range of different activities.
And there’s still time to sign up for the next session, on June 24, when retired photographer Gordon Young will show members how to take photos and reminiscence about how photography has changed in the last 60 years.
Justine Davidison, the local Alzheimer Scotland dementia adviser, is keen for more people to join up.
She said: “The activities are all led by experienced coaches who have offered tutoring in soft cricket, soft archery, petanque, ballroom dancing and drumming.
“For many members, these activities have been new to them and they’re enjoying finding out more.
“So we’ve found that the same people have been coming along every month.
“It’s also been a great way for people to reconnect with old friends. One man and woman worked together in the ICI laboratory.
“Others have recognised each other from their school days at Wallacestone Primary.
“It’s been lovely to see them reconnect after so many years, while also enjoying the activities.
“We’d be delighted to hear from anyone who’d like to Try Something New and perhaps make their own connections – old or new!”
The cricket club approached Alzheimer Scotland about running the monthly sessions, much to Justine’s delight.
She said: “The club is next door to a nursery and has very good community links.
“However, one of the club’s directors, Helen Sutton, was also keen for older people to benefit from their facilities...so she got in touch with me.
“We’re very gratefuol to club members who have offered their time, expertise and resources so that people with dementia and family members can access a range of activities.”
If you have dementia or care for someone who has and are interested in the Try Something New group, call 01324 559480 or email email@example.com.
Alzheimer Scotland is also launching two new groups this July.
That Friday Feeling will be held every Friday from 1pm to 3pm in the Age Concern Hall in Larbert, offering muscial and movie memories, as well as quizzes and games.
And Friday Connect will be held at the Maples Day Care Centre in Stenhousemuir from 10am to noon each week, with a six-week rolling programme of activities, including crafts, hobbies, exercise, music and quizzes.
To register for the groups, contact Anne Christian on 01324 559480 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another cornerstone of Justine’s work is helping to raise awareness via Dementia Friend training sessions with community groups and businesses.
The one-hour sessions explain how people can help make life better for someone living with dementia.
During Dementia Awareness Week earlier this month, the Howgate Centre in Falkirk was the latest business to sign up.
More than 20 members of the security, cleaning and retail team are now fully-fledged Dementia Friends.
Justine said: “Now if people are having memory problems in the Howgate they can approach staff who will be able to support them.”
Margaret Foy, the centre’s marketing manager, said the team were proud to be listed as Dementia Friends.
She added: “We understand how frightening it can be when a loved one wanders off and how challenging shopping can be with dementia.
“The training will help our staff and retailers be aware of the signs and more patient and understanding to ensure the centre is accessible and safe for all.”
You can become a Dementia Friend online or, to book a session, call Justine on 01324 559480 or email email@example.com.
There’s no need to feel isolated
Alzheimer Scotland’s community groups are open to anyone living with dementia, as well as their families, carers and friends.
However, transport is not provided so those who can’t travel independently should attend with a companion.
The charity runs a free, post diagnostic clinic three times a year for those who have recently been diagnosed.
The eight-week course offers a safe place to talk and make plans for the future.
There is a host of weekly and monthly activities too.
The Garden Club is held in the charity’s Maples Day Care Centre in Stenhousemuir.
In inclement weather, meetings are held in a large heated workshop. The club runs every Monday and Thursday from 10am to noon.
Football Reminiscence Groups are held in the Corbie Inn, Bo’ness, on the last Wednesday of every month from 2pm to 3.30pm and at the Maples on the last Monday of the month from 3.15pm to 4.30pm.
There are also two drop-in cafés, at Central Perk in Grahams Road, Falkirk, every Thursday from 10am to noon and in Richmond Park Hotel, Bo’ness, every Wednesday, also from 10am to noon.
The Cladhan Hotel in Falkirk hosts a Food with Friends Group on the second Monday of every month, from 5.45pm, costing £10 per person for two courses or £12 for three, while the Musical Memories group is held on the first Monday of every month in St Xavier’s Church Hall in Falkirk, from 11.30am to 12.30pm.
And the popular 10 pin bowling group meets at Pro-Bowl every Wednesday from 11.30am to 12.30pm.
To register an interest in any of the groups, call 01324 559480.
Alzheimer Scotland also runs a free, 24 hour Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000.
For more information on dementia, visit the website www.alzscot.org.