Older People with Dementia in Bristol feel less isolated after talking about Sport

Reminiscence groups 2Older people with dementia in Bristol say they feel less isolated – after talking about sport.

It’s only been three months since Sporting Memories Network launched their unique project at professional sports clubs across the city – including Gloucestershire Cricket.

Each week small groups have been getting together in the new Bristol Pavilion to reminisce about their favourite sports memories.

image001The reminiscence groups start by looking at photos of legends from Gloucestershire Cricket, the wider world of cricket and also other sports stars from across the years. Conversations are also sparked by looking at sports reports, memorabilia and in some cases, former players from the club will go to meet the participants.

By tapping into this love of sport, older residents who struggle with their short term memory find their own happy and treasured memories from watching or even playing for Gloucestershire Cricket flood back.

image003Research has shown these sessions have a positive impact on reducing the feelings of social isolation and depression often experienced by patients with dementia which in turn helps to promote and maintain the well-being of participants. This project also supports Bristol’s ambitions to become dementia friendly after the city was awarded £200,000 last year.

SMN are continuing to look for participants to take part in the groups. Both men and women are welcome – simply contact SMN to join the group.

“Sport is a wonderful common currency that allows people, who can struggle with everyday conversation, to share great memories of players, games and events in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.” Chris Wilkins, Co-founder of SMN explains.

“Cricket is the type of sport which attracts fans that love attention to detail so there’s plenty to talk about during the groups.

“What’s been especially great is to see some women getting involved in the groups too as women have just as many memories of matches as men. Even if they’re not particularly big cricket fans they remember their husband’s reactions before and after big matches, the routine surrounding match day and what they got up to while they were so called ‘cricket widows.”

SMN are also keen to hear from potential volunteers who love conversations about sport to help run these reminiscence groups. Volunteers are provided with full training to run the weekly sessions and the groups are led by at least two volunteers.

Chris says: “And we also want the fans to get involved. If you’ve got any memorabilia, photos or memories of sport in Bristol and South Gloucestershire which will help us build a resource of images and stories to trigger conversations we’d love to hear from you.”

People interested in volunteering to facilitate or support these groups or if they know someone who could benefit from attending the groups can find out more on our website www.sportingmemoriesnetwork.com

Chris Wilkins would be available for telephone interview on 07765 864484.


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