What does this hat remind me of?
What does this hat remind me of?

These are not ordinary hats!  They are hats with a tale in them, evoking memories for the group enjoying a training session in ‘Brain Boosting for Seniors’ in Nottingham last week.   Pastoral workers from six local churches came along, and two had travelled from further afield, in Kent.

Trainer Janet Jacob has been running ‘Brain Boosting for Seniors’ sessions for individuals living independently at our housing complex in Yorkshire (Royd Court) for over a year now, with very good results.  We’re now beginning to trial the concept with pastoral leaders for use in their churches.

There are two types of sessions: one for seniors, who would like to keep their minds sharp, and the other for people with early stage dementia.  The sessions are planned to stimulate more than cognitive function.  They’re also designed to give spiritual support and affirm participants’ unique identity – and to be fun at the same time!

We believe that God designed people to develop in relationship with one another, and we are seeing the evidence unfold with groups over time.

At Royd Court the first group showed improved memory and cognitive function, reduced agitation and anxiety, increased self-confidence and sociability, and, as far as we could measure – strengthened faith.  They also developed friendships with one another; it was heart warming to see that two participants who had the most difficulty with ‘normal’ communicating became close friends.  Understanding is not always communicated with words, it seems.

Trainer Janet Jacob
Trainer Janet Jacob

Trainer Janet Jacob’s career has always been with older people, first as a psychogeriatric nurse and then as a Pilgrim Homes’ care home manager.   She is now a regular speaker at conferences and seminars at churches on issues of old age, including dementia.

After the results of these first trials with churches come back, we plan to produce a ‘Brain Boosting’ DVD, available for everyone who wants to run the groups in their church fellowships and communities.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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