The positive power of memories for people with dementia and their carers was clear this week as they took a trip back in time with the V&A.
Thanks to Dundee Dementia Resource Centre (DDRC), based on Morgan Street, the group enjoyed an in-person tour of the V&A following more than a year of online activities due to Covid-19.
Sandy Anderson, 83, who has dementia, took part in the specially-arranged tour.
He says: “It was very well put together. I had a good time.
“I enjoyed looking at the historical stuff the most, looking back at the way people dressed, how Dundee looked 50 or 100 years ago. It was like going back in time.
“It was a privilege to be able to go and see it all. There’s so much there and younger people can go and see what went on all those years ago, too.”
Going back in time
As part of the tour, the members were shown photos of old and contemporary architecture from around Dundee, some of which have been made into plaster cast moulds, bringing back old memories of Dundee as it was many years ago.
Rosemary Moncur, community activities organiser for the DDRC says: “It initiates conversation and brings back memories for many people who have dementia.
“Lots of people have different memories and stories to tell. For example, Sandy grew up in Dundee but lived in South Africa for a long time. But seeing the photos brings back memories for him.
“Taking part in an activity such as remembering what Dundee used to be like definitely has a positive outcome for somebody living with dementia.”
Buildings and streets featured in the Assemble: Making Room exhibition at the V&A include the Old Bank Bar, King’s Theatre, Castle Street and Blackness Library.
Rosemary continues: “It was a fantastic opportunity for people with dementia and their family carers to connect and socialise and a great way to reminisce within a unique cultural hotspot.
“You could tell the tour lifted everybody’s mood and we all really enjoyed it.
“After the restrictions imposed due to Covid, the opportunity to meet face-to-face again is hugely beneficial.”
The magic of memory
The visit to the V&A is one of the first times members of the group have been able to get together in person after Covid-19 restrictions began to ease earlier in the month.
However, throughout lockdown the DDRC has been working hard to ensure services ran as smoothly as possible.
Pam Hazelwood cares for her husband who has dementia. She also attended the V&A tour.
She says: “It was really nice actually being with other people again, though we’ve been very lucky with the DDRC throughout lockdown.
“My husband attends the online art sessions, which are excellent. There are various walking groups in the local area. They have also run various memory classes, such as music memories and football memories.
“The work they do is absolutely brilliant.”
Peter Nurick, Communities Producer, Access and Inclusion, V&A Dundee says: “For many, the experience of visiting a museum can have a really meaningful impact.
“Taking a tour of the exhibitions and galleries offer fantastic opportunities for reminiscence and cognitive stimulation.
“Connecting with culture can have lots of benefits on an individuals’ health and overall wellbeing.
“We look forward to continuing this relationship with Alzheimer Scotland, and welcoming them – and lots of other groups – to V&A Dundee in the future.”