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New group offers dementia support in Swansea Valley

Clydach Dementia Group

A new group offering support for people living with dementia and their carers has been set up in the Swansea Valley.

The Forgetful Friends Dementia and Carer Group will meet once a month in the Community Centre on Vardre Road in Clydach.

Above: Dementia worker Elaine James (front left) and Admiral Nurse Helen Buckley (front right) with volunteers Elizabeth Chandler, Geraint Davies and David North.

The group has been set up by Elaine James, Swansea Council for Voluntary Services (SCVS) dementia and carer project worker, after identifying a need for such a resource in the area.

She said: “There are seven similar clubs in Swansea Bay but nothing in this area. That’s why we specifically decided to come to Clydach. Hopefully it will help people meet others in the same situation, and grow from here.

“People’s lives change once they are diagnosed with dementia. Some people don’t know where to turn. Some want to meet others in the same position to learn coping techniques and what to expect. Others just want to know that they are not alone.

“Very often carers feel isolated and feel as though they are battling against this disease on their own. It’s important to learn from others and to share experiences, which why these groups tend to work.

“If anyone is thinking of coming along, just come in and have a cup of tea and a chat. If it’s not for them, then fair enough. We just want to get people together to do some meaningful activities and socialise - we have a team of great volunteers ready to help out.”

Besides a cup of tea and chat there will be plenty on offer to keep people busy.

Elaine said: “We do activities – that could be a game of skittles, singing, a quiz or a game of bingo. 

“We like to reminiscence, whether that be musical memories or looking at books with photographs of old Swansea. We can have conversations about where they used to live and work.

“We also have jigsaws, colouring and things to keep people occupied.”

The group will not be confined to its new community hall home.

Elaine said: “Maybe we will go out for a meal one day or go on a trip to the pantomime in the Grand Theatre. A fortnight ago one of our groups went down to the seaside in an old double-decker bus for fish and chips.”

Those living with the disease typically show symptoms that affects memory, thinking and interferes with daily life.

And as people are living longer, it’s estimated that by 2025, the number of people with dementia in the UK will be more than 1 million.

“The number of people living with dementia is growing and, unfortunately, it’s not something that’s going away. We are hearing of more people being diagnosed all the time,” said Elaine.

“It’s not just old people, younger people are being diagnosed as well.”

Helen Buckley, the Royal British Legion’s lead Admiral Nurse, will also attend the group when available.

She said: “My role entails supporting the carers of a loved one with dementia – from a psychological perspective as well as the other areas.

“You will invariably find that carers are experiencing anxiety, stress and depression, which impacts on their own well-being.

“Coming to this group will give them that mental stimulation, knowing that they are not on their own. That’s very important. 

“I’d say to anyone who may be unsure to just come along and have a look – if it’s not for you that’s fine. Let us know what is for you so we can perhaps discover other services that are out there.”

The group will meet next on Thursday 24th November from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

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