Latest News

17 January 2017

Stars say ‘Keep visiting friends and family with dementia’

In her role as Alzheimer’s Society Global Dementia Friends Ambassador, actress Carey Mulligan has enlisted Michael Palin and Michael Parkinson to raise dementia awareness. All three have witnessed the effects of dementia on loved ones and friends.

“My beloved grandmother ‘Nans’ turned 91 a couple of days before Christmas,” says Mulligan, the Oscar-nominated star of An Education and The Great Gatsby. “My family and many of Nans’ friends - laden with copious amounts of cake - went down to Wales to see her and celebrate.”

“Nans was diagnosed with dementia in 2004 and from that moment our lives changed significantly. My family is very lucky that, together with Nans, we were able to find a brilliant care home. My grandmother has lived there since 2006 and it is truly her home. The staff all go above and beyond to treat each person as the individuals they are.”

“In addition to the fantastic staff at her care home, Nans has a wonderful support network around her of loving family and friends who visit her regularly. Every visit has moments of real joy. She may not remember them but there is no doubt in my mind that she feels every ounce of the overwhelming love and respect we all have for her. That her oldest friends still take the time to visit her, even if just to sit with her in quiet reflection, means so much to her and all of us.”

For his part, Michael Palin has talked about how fellow Monty Python Terry Jones has lost much of his ability to speak, but takes great joy in watching old musicals on the television. He has also shared tales of their frequent trips to the pub together, where Terry will sit in contented silence for most of the meal but when it becomes time to choose the wine will launch into fluent Portuguese to order a bottle.

Michael Parkinson remembers how even 30 years after his father’s death his mother would imagine her husband was down the pub and call up the landlord to send him home. He said how even though she couldn’t remember who her son was, she knew every single lyric of Frank Sinatra’s songs.

Both Michaels have also discussed how crucial it is for family and friends to keep visiting and spending time with their loved ones living with dementia. They feel this is essential to help them feel connected and included, even though it might be challenging at times for the person visiting.

“We encourage family and friends to visit residents at our care homes as often as possible,” says Jamie Smith, Projects & Development Director at Coate Water Care. “Sometimes it can feel hard to talk to people with dementia. Their behaviour can feel confusing and you might not know what to say, but just like you enjoy talking to your friends, so do people with dementia. You can also help by thinking of activities you can do together before you visit. Here are just a few we have seen get a positive response.”

  • Talk about the person’s past and their childhood
  • Look through old photos together
  • Go for a walk in the care home garden
  • Listen to favourite music together
  • Do some gentle gardening
  • Hold hands
  • Make a memory box full of things that are important to your loved one
  • Make a video of old photos and film clips.

Coate Water Care’s seven outstanding care homes all have dementia-friendly programmes of activities for residents. Please contact our ‘Welcome Team’ Michelle or Geraldine (01793 821200) with any questions about care or to arrange a visit to your local home.