‘The Brain Boost’ – better quality of life
The Union of Jewish Women (UJW) in Johannesburg has initiated a programme for individuals with mild-moderate memory difficulties called “The Brain Boost”.
It is considered a blessing to wish a bereaved person a “long life”. However, longevity can bring with it considerable negative consequences, one of them being memory loss which can progress to dementia, says programme coordinator Diane Levine, a longtime social worker who has worked with dementia patients and is the past chairman of the UJW.
“We all fear incapacity, loss of control and loss of memory,” says Levine. “These are realistic fears and indeed a recent study has shown that one in nine people over the age of 65 has dementia. As the population ages, especially with Jewish seniors in our community, the number of people who suffer from memory loss is expected to increase.
In response, the UJW has started these morning stimulation groups. The first group session began on July 5.
The main aims are:
- To boost fine motor co-ordination by the use of arts and crafts
- To boost memory and cognitive abilities with a range of mental games
- To provide a space for socialisation and sharing of experiences and frustrations
- To provide a relaxed friendly atmosphere to enhance laughter, humour and feelings of self-worth
- To provide their caregivers a time for respite and “catch up” on their daily needs
- To provide physical activity with a light exercise programme
“It is important to note that this is a condition that can develop slowly over many years and that those affected can live a meaningful life for many years,” says Levine. “Even when this cruel condition has taken its toll on the individual’s ability to function at the same level as they did in the past, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that a good quality of life is maintained. People with dementia have the same needs as we all do – for friendship, companionship warmth and stimulation.”
The group is run by The UJW occupational therapist Kim Lewitte and volunteers Bev Cohen and Isabelle Kampel.
* If you have a friend or relative who would benefit from this group, call us. Cindy Kree’s telephone number is (011) 648-1053.