Cricket breaks dementia barrier

March 28 2014

A UNIQUE initiative is helping people with dementia feel less isolated - through talking about sport.

A UNIQUE initiative is helping people with dementia feel less isolated - through talking about sport.
Sporting Memories Network – a social enterprise promoting the well-being of older people through sports-based reminiscence activities – launched their project at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club three months ago.
Each week, small groups meet at the Bristol Pavilion to reminisce about their favourite sporting memories.
The groups look at photos of legends from Gloucestershire Cricket, as well as international cricket, and other sports stars from over the years.
Conversations are also sparked by looking at sports reports and memorabilia, and in some cases, former players from the club visiting the participants.
By tapping into their love of sport, older residents struggling with their short term memory can find their own happy and treasured memories from watching or even playing for Gloucestershire Cricket flood back.
Research has shown the sessions have a positive impact on reducing feelings of isolation and depression often experienced by patients with dementia.
This project also supports Bristol’s ambitions to become dementia-friendly after the city was awarded £200,000 last year.
Chris Wilkins, co-founder of SMN, said: "Sport is a wonderful common currency that allows people, who can struggle with everyday conversation, to share great memories of players, games and events in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere."
"Cricket is the type of sport which attracts fans that love attention to detail so there's plenty to talk about during the groups.
He added: "What’s been especially great is to see some women getting involved in the groups too as women have just as many memories of matches as men. Even if they're not particularly big cricket fans they remember their husband's reactions, the routine surrounding match day and what they got up to while they were so called "cricket widows"."
SMN are continuing to look for participants to take part in the groups. Both men and women are welcome. The network is also looking for potential volunteers who love conversations about sport to help run the weekly reminiscence groups. Volunteers are provided with full training and the groups are led by at least two volunteers.
Fans are also being asked to get involved, by providing any memorabilia or photos of sport in Bristol and South Gloucestershire which can help the network build its resources.
For more information about how to get involved, whether it is helping to facilitate classes, or registering someone who would benefit from attending the group, visit: www.sportingmemoriesnetwork.com.