Yesterday afternoon as part of the project at Four Acre, St Helens, we visited Kershaw Day Centre, working with a group of older people many of whom suffered from memory loss.
I had a wonderful afternoon - focussing my time on two participants. B & E.
When I sat down, B. explained to me 'I don't remember anything.' However as so often happens when one memory is triggered there is a rush of others. It seems that relaxation is the key, if any pressure is put on either by other people or yourself to try and capture a thought it stubbornly refuses to resurface; if you gently go round the houses, or are prompted by other people's memories, your own are released.
E had had a very bad fall and hit her head resulting in severe memory loss; gradually her recollection is improving. 'Getting memories back is a magnificent feeling. It feels like I'm coming alive. I feel I've been away somewhere. It's hard to get your brain to remember, but a brilliant feeling when it comes back. On my own I thought I was a freak, I thought I had no life left. Coming in here you realise there are other people with the same problems - some worse. This has been a brilliant afternoon. Talking and being part of a group helps. I'll remember all of this. It will be in my memory I'm sure it will.'
B's infectious sense of humour made the three of us laugh through some of the hard realities that they discussed. B has dementia, at one point she described the condition 'Loss of memory its terrible, frightening, its murder. I remember being terrified. My husband, he's my carer, he say's "I'm not even trying to remember." I say 'remember what?' I tease him. I say one day when I'm in my grave, these memories will come back and haunt you.... whoooo.'
Both women selected short pieces of their reminiscence to write on doilies, for our forthcoming teaparty event. Our conversation started with descriptions of cold, and led into romance and a delightful description of B's wedding day. 'Any functions coming up we all mucked in. For my wedding all we had were tins of PREM (spam) and a tin opener. It was a very good do, everyone brought something...'