Supporting people affected by dementia

A new Dementia Support group which meets every Saturday morning was inspired by a chance encounter with a dementia sufferer years ago.

The sessions are from 9-12 noon at Better Brighter Bexhill in Station Road and run by volunteer Cliff Slack whose initial experience stayed with him and made him want to help.

The hope with his Dementia Support East Sussex is to provide relief with the emphasis on singing, music and activities. The group is all about making friends and learning new skills but Cliff is also looking at bringing in local sewers who can mend and provide practical help.

Cliff was gardening at home with late wife Sandra and when they went inside they found an elderly woman convinced that she was sitting in her own house.

“The little old lady didn’t know who she was, or where she had come from,” remembers Cliff.

He called the police to find out and learned she was Molly from a care home in a nearby street who had wandered off with nobody noticing.

Molly however told them she had been kidnapped by three men and bundled into a car then pushed out. But she talked to Sandra happily about her childhood and her life before being collected.

“We never forgot Molly and Sandra showed me how compassion and tenderness can overcome the barriers that dementia creates,” said Cliff. “In memory of a wonderful wife of 39 years, I decided to be the perfect volunteer that she could have been, spending three hours each week with someone with dementia, taking the time to engage them in conversation, and giving their carer a break.”

Cliff has been doing just that, visiting a gentleman every week who next time might not remember him at all, and said: “All I want to do is bring some relief, not just to dementia sufferers but to their carers. It is the most difficult job on earth. And dementia is increasing now - we are getting younger people in their 50s who have it.”

To find out more about DSES contact Cliff on 01424 432919 or 078696 19861.