“Have you enjoyed coming to the group today?” I asked the new lady as she put on her coat to go home. It had been her first visit and it seemed to have gone exceptionally well. “It’s been wonderful,” she replied smiling happily. “I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed myself so much.”
I’d noticed that she’d hit it off with some of the other members almost immediately. She’d won a bingo prize and had needed no persuading to get up and dance when the music started. “I hope that means you’ll be coming next week then,” I said. “Yes, I will,” she replied. And she did.
But the following week she didn’t turn up and the week after that she didn’t turn up either. Thinking she might not be well, I phoned her carer to ask how she was. He told me that she didn’t want to come. “What a shame; she enjoyed it so much,” I said. “Well she definitely doesn’t want to come. I asked her a few times.” “Might that be because she’s forgotten where she’s been and how much she enjoyed it?” I enquired. He agreed that her memory was very poor but either he didn’t make the connection between her poor memory and her unwillingness to attend or he was more concerned with respecting her wishes.
Even when people with dementia find a social activity they enjoy, their poor memory means they can still become isolated unless someone keeps reminding and encouraging them to keep up the contact until they get used to attending. Once the new habit is formed there’s a good chance they’ll keep coming.
For more information about the Wednesday (Memory) Group in Retford contact Jan on 01777 709974.