After a talk I’d given at a conference, a woman among the listeners said her husband was now living with dementia, and she was looking for ideas to keep him occupied. He had been a headmaster, but his hobby for most of his life had been woodworking.  Immediately hands were raised and there were suggestions from others and directions to websites that had tools and materials about hobbies for people with dementia including a type of woodworking.  Problem solved!

But when a 90-year-old former pastor developed dementia there wasn’t such an obvious answer.   His main pastime had been reading, and he had always enjoyed talking to and listening to people.  He had a been a spiritual dad for hundreds of people.  He wasn’t interested in board games, and definitely not in the flower arranging and pot planting that was popular at the Day Centre he began to attend.  And once his concentration began to fail he was less interested in reading.

One of the carers at the centre asked his wife what they could do that would interest him.  She was stumped for a minute, then remembered that he had visited over 30 countries during his ministry. One they had visited more frequently than others was New Zealand, and she had many photographs of the country and the people they’d been involved with.  She gave the carer a map of New Zealand and some photographs.

It worked beautifully!  The carer said they’d had a good conversation, and he had been clearly delighted to be able to share his experiences there with her.  She had enjoyed it too.  And interacting with each other was good for  both their brains, because our neurones are firing more actively when we are with others than at any other time.

God is good: He always comes up with the right solution!





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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