Cookery classes help dementia sufferers remember days gone by

Thomas and Lilian Hardiman.
Thomas and Lilian Hardiman.
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Wearside pensioners have all the ingredients to make happy memories, with new cookery classes designed to help them reminisce about days gone by.

 Residents at Sunderland extra care scheme Seafarers Way, in the East End, are attending classes which are specifically developed to unlock memories of the past.

 The Moor Terrace apartment scheme, which is home to people who are living with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, runs cookery programmes regularly with tenants.  

 It is known that reminiscing can unlock memories for people living with dementia.

 The scheme, which was opened in 2014, offers a programme of entertainment, including movie afternoons, musical entertainment and pampering sessions to ensure that every day is entertaining for residents. Many of the activities organised by the Seafarers Way team are designed specifically for people living with dementia.

 Dale Thompson, regional operations manager at Inclusion Housing, which runs Seafarers Way, said: “Cooking for their family is something that many of the older people we have in the scheme will have done when they were younger and perhaps had children growing up.

 “Through supported, shared cooking sessions, we are helping our residents to remember the old days and to remain a sense of independence, in a safe, secure environment. This approach is known to evoke memories that can be very comforting for people living with dementia.”

 He added: “The activities we organise at Seafarers Way are about helping people to feel they are still capable of being themselves – the person they recall being many years ago, with the same abilities and level of independence.”

 Seafarers Way has 38 custom-built one- and two-bedroom apartments for people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s. The scheme was commissioned by Sunderland City Council.

 Councillor Graeme Miller, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for health, housing and adult services, said: “The scheme is a fantastic example of a place that not only thinks about the health needs of its residents, but also the social needs to keep them happy and fulfilled.

 “Dementia can be a cruel disease, taking away someone’s memories and sense of self, but through reminiscence, it can be possible to tease out fragments of the person they used to be, stimulating their brain to unlock memories.”

 For more information about Seafarers Way, contact 01904 675 207.