The Montgomery unlocks memories for people with dementia

A NEW project from Sheffield theatre and arts centre The Montgomery is giving people living with dementia the opportunity to reach out and share precious memories.

The Montgomery has a creative reminiscence collection lending library specifically designed for older people experiencing the problems of a life with dementia.

Available to care homes, churches, dementia cafes, community groups and anybody else running dementia sessions, the themes of the boxes cover such wide ranging subjects as washday, childhood pastimes, make do and mend, cooking and rationing, courtship and marriage, medicine and even beauty and grooming.

But now the scheme is aiming to extend to cover the whole of the city and for a membership fee of just £10 per year, the complete project will be available with unlimited access to people who need the stimulation the boxes can provide.

“Currently around 20 care homes and church groups borrow our memory boxes but if all the church groups and care homes in Sheffield accessed them they could potentially reach thousands of people living with dementia,” said The Montgomery Managing Director Dawn Reynolds.

She added that the expanded project would also aim to include people of all ages.

“Children and parents will be invited to special morning sessions, run by Caroline Twist, in which they will learn about dementia and the creative ways of using reminiscence and music,” Dawn said.

“This would form an introduction to three creative reminiscence mornings and a celebration event, with space for up to 30 children and parents.

“In addition, the aim is to have three intergenerational dementia engagement mornings at The Montgomery for families with children to bring along loved ones who are living with dementia.

“Our permanent dementia collection would then be used to promote conversation and families would be able to capture moments of their relatives’ memories through filling in a life history booklet.

“At the same time, children would have creative reminiscence activities, using art, stories and poetry to capture those memories.”

In addition, The Montgomery is currently in the process of becoming a help point for the dementia charity Playlist For Life – which uses music to stimulate memory – while another project, Stories for the Soul, is a storytelling resource specifically aimed at enhancing spiritual wellbeing.

“The Montgomery has been a part of the fabric of Sheffield life for well over a hundred years and now, as always, opens its doors to all people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Dawn.

“We are delighted that as well as being well known for our children and family services we are now extending our support into new areas.

“Many Sheffield people now living with dementia will have visited The Montgomery so often over the decades and by reconnecting with us they might be able to find a way to stimulate happy but currently hidden memories.”

To find out more about The Montgomery and its dementia programme simply visit themontgomery.org.uk

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