Guest Post – From Someone Who Makes a Difference

As you’ll probably know, about a year ago I helped put together a book containing 20 photographs and 20 short pieces of fiction or poetry inspired by them – to be sold to raise money for The Alzheimer’s Society. And raise money it did. A few weeks ago we were able to present Jo, the lovely and brilliant representative, with some money.

I’m very pleased to welcome her to the blog today to tell us a little about how the book’s been used.

Over to you, Jo (and thank you!)…

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In May last year, the Alzheimer’s Society in Macclesfield was contacted by a group of local writers who had an idea for a fundraising project.  The idea was to inspire a collection of short creative pieces written to accompany a series of 20 photographs.  Amazingly, within four weeks, the “20 Photographs & 20 Stories” book was created and produced. 
Since its presentation, the Alzheimer’s Society has been using the book as part of our Reminiscence Library service.  The library which was established in the summer of 2008, includes a range of materials from books, dvds, cds, sensory equipment, games and music which are loaned free of charge to people with dementia and their families.  Reminiscence which is the recall of memories and past events is particularly important for people with short term memory problems and can be used to underpin the whole caring approach.  The 20 Photographs & 20 Stories book has been an inspiring and often moving addition to the library. 
The books are lent to clients to use at home and taken to dementia cafes where they are used by volunteers to help engage with people with dementia.  This can provide a breathing space for a carer to have a chat with a support worker or another carer sharing their experiences, their fears and creating supportive friendships.  For the person living with dementia, the books are interesting and different and quite often the photos provoke comments and memories demonstrating the abilities that remain and not those which have been lost.  

It is also significant for them that this is not a book which has been specially created with dementia in mind.  Carers and people living with dementia can share this experience together dipping in and out of the book sharing the laughter, memories and personal stories invoked by the photos and interpreting the stories in their own unique way.  There have been many special moments for those using the book when a closeness, a sense of connection has been forged which has encourages us to remember the person beyond the dementia.  It was captured by a carer who commented “we sat down together to look at the book and felt a sense of togetherness”. 
The inclusion of a story by [Alzheimer’s Society worker] Lynda Iverson in which she speaks movingly about her experience of caring for her mum with memory problems has also enhanced the way the book can be used.  It captures the feelings and determination of many families to return the love and care that nurtured them in earlier times in a way that we often forget when dealing with the practical difficulties that can beset each day.
We are very grateful to have been involved in such a creative and inspiring project which will continue to enhance the lives of people living with dementia for many years to come.

– Jo Hawkins

Support Services Manager

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[ADDED: There are still a handful of copies left over of the book – if anyone would like one they should drop me an email here. They’re £15 (including UK P&P)]


7 Comments on “Guest Post – From Someone Who Makes a Difference

  1.  by  Affy-Ann

    That's wonderful. I've been interested in studying dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease since I started college three years ago. I'm glad you've helped these people – patients, carers, and families – cope with the disease. =)

  2.  by  Nik Perring

    Thanks Lane. Well, not as much of a difference as the people who work with sufferers all the time but I'm glad we were able to help in our own way!Nik

  3.  by  LM118

    As someone you has worked with dementia sufferers and their carers/families for the past 15 years can I applaude all concerned for their work on this book.Alzheimers is a frightening and isolating disease and anything that can assist in engagement is a wonderful thing.It is a shame that services have to rely on charity but hopefully this book and your blog has raised the profile for them.

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