I was asked to post the following story by Anne Hopewell, a member of the Memory Boosters Social Club, in the hopes that others would be inspired to start a Memory Boosters Club in their own communities. For more information contact Anne at annehopewell70@gmail.com or visit the Memory Boosters Social Club on Facebook.


Memory Boosters Social Club

memory-boostersEstablished in 2012 this unique club for people living with dementia and their partners in care meets twice a month in The Villages of Winston Park in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

After receiving our initial diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, we contacted our local Alzheimer’s Society to learn about this disease. We became involved in education and support groups and what little social activities that were available. Unfortunately there really wasn’t too much out there, so we decided to create our own group with a few other couples we had met on this same journey.Once we had located a suitable place to meet we went about developing a program that would suit our needs and appeal to a wide variety of people. Of course refreshments are a big part of our meetings and everyone takes a turn to bring some “sweeties” and fruit. During the refreshment break we all have a chance to socialize.

We wanted to provide a safe and supportive environment where people could come and relax and enjoy themselves without worrying about being judged. We are all on the same journey and understand what others may be going through. We provide information on educational events, seminars, and opportunities for involvement in research at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Many of our group have involved themselves in these very worthwhile pursuits.

At the beginning of each meeting there is an opportunity for sharing information or just to discuss an issue that someone is dealing with and we can be a sounding board and help that individual. For example, giving up one’s driver’s license was one topic we dealt with. One of the men was struggling with this. He knew the time had come to stop driving but needed the extra help that his peers could offer him. He was grateful for this support and often expressed this. In turn he was able to support others dealing with this difficult issue.

After this part of our meeting, we then have an activity or game such as: art projects, sing-along, bingo, line dancing, cookie decorating, Nordic pole walking, bowling and popular pot lucks. A good part of the time is reminiscing and everyone enjoys sharing and getting to know each other better. We plan themed celebrations for special birthdays and anniversaries. As well, we have had special days to celebrate Christmas, Valentine ’s Day, St. Patrick’s day, Halloween and Oktoberfest with one of our members playing the accordion for us. In the worst part of winter we have a Caribbean Day with steel band that everyone loves. This year we had a special Family Day that gave us an opportunity to meet families and share with them what we do at the Club. Everyone had a great time and we plan to repeat this annually.

We have also organized outings that include visiting local museums, picnics and hikes at local parks .We have gone to a butterfly center and visited two artist’s studios to make pottery and glass fusion pieces. We were amazed at the results! This year we are going on a day trip that will be a dinner cruise along the Grand River. A new venture for us! We are fortunate to live in a diverse community that has so much to offer.

Every year we form a team and participate in our local Alzheimer’s Society Walk for Alzheimer’s. Our team came in first for last year’s category for fund raising and one of our members has been the top individual fund raiser for the past 3 years.

We began as a small group of friends that share a similar experience but have now grown to nearly 40 members. Our main goal is to try and have some fun, make some sort of sense of what is happening in our lives. We try to leave our troubles at the door and have some respite. We have been so fortunate to have a very talented retired music teacher join us for most of our meetings. With his help we created a song that we sing at every meeting and have shared at some local events.

THE MEMORY BOOSTERS SONG

The Memory Boosters we call our band
Helping each other we lend a hand
We make new memories, challenge the mind
So the joys of friendship we will find

CHORUS
Laughing
Crafting
Eating
Playing

A smile will make it all worthwhile!
Facing the day with your friends who care
Searching for fun that we all share
Greeting one another with a smile
These activities make up our style

CHORUS

In many ways meaning can be found,
Stimulate your mind, just look around
Sing a song and tap a little beat,
Celebrate each moment when we meet!

CHORUS X three

Quotes from our members (people living with dementia).

“This is fun! I’d rather be here than our cottage”

“Cannot tell you how much Memory Boosters has enriched our lives. A great group of people to socialize with”

“We don’t have to look anywhere else, we have it all here”

“This has brought some fun back into my life and has inspired me to help others”

“Memory Boosters has given me an outlet to connect, expand friendships and try some activities I may otherwise not considered”

“Perhaps what makes this such a wonderful group is that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the planning and managing the club”

Memory Boosters Social Club has achieved everything it has set out to do and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come.