Help groups launched for dementia sufferers

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Two new Sudbury-based help groups are aiming to address the growing need for support for dementia sufferers and their carers.

Forget Me Not, a new dementia support group, opened at The Bridge Project café in Gainsborough Street last Thursday, following the launch of Decaf at the same venue in April.

Both groups were formed to fill the void left by the loss of the Alzheimer’s Society Support group in Sudbury and the Synergy Café, after the contract for dementia services in Suffolk changed to a new provider.

The Bridge Project is now set to host a free afternoon tea tomorrow, to coincide with Dementia Awareness Week, to provide sessions for people with dementia and their carers.

Jo Searle, chief executive officer at The Bridge Project, said: “We identified that there is a growing need for more support groups.

“We wanted to continue to ensure there is somewhere that people can get support, socialise and meet with others going through similar experiences.

“We’re all about creating opportunities for people in our community to live well. The Decaf and Forget Me Not groups do just that.”

Decaf and Forget Me Not offer attendees activities designed to keep their minds active and stimulate their memories, such as games, puzzles, quizzes and musical bingo with songs from different decades.

Mary Mugford, who cares for her husband Brian, who has dementia, said: “It’s easy to become isolated and to stay at home all day when you’re living with dementia.

“These sessions really are special because they make you feel part of something. You get to join in.

“Coming to the Decaf sessions on a Monday at The Bridge is the highlight of our week. It’s our social life.”

Mr Mugford added: “These groups help get the mind working, and what I enjoy most is the moment where I can remember things no-one else can.

“It’s in there somewhere, and then the answer just comes to you.”

The Bridge Project revealed that Decaf already drew a regular attendance of 20 people since it began last month, and they said Forget Me Not also had “an excellent start” last week.

Becky Nicholson, service manager at The Bridge Project, said: “The groups are a chance for carers to speak to others in a similar situation, but overall it is a place for everyone to have fun.

“There is an image that people with dementia don’t have fun, that it’s the end of their life, but it’s certainly not.

“At our groups, people are laughing, talking and engaging in games and conversations.

“There is a reason behind everything we do here. It’s proven that the more mental stimulation someone has, the slower the dementia progresses.”

The Dementia Awareness Week afternoon tea takes place at The Bridge Project café tomorrow afternoon, from 2pm to 3.30pm.

Decaf runs every Monday between 11am and 3pm, while Forget Me Not takes place on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month, from 2pm until 4pm.

Both dementia cafés are held at The Bridge Project and are free to enter, with no booking required.