Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Our member Malcolm tells us his story:
“My wife, Pat, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago and in the early stages we still led a full life.
“We found out about Ageing Better Middlesbrough when Linda from the Community Development Team, came along to a coffee drop-in at our doctor’s surgery. She talked about Ageing Better Middlesbrough and what they could offer. It sounded okay but had to be suitable and accessible for Pat too. After giving it some thought, we decided to join and try out some of the activities.
“One of the Ageing Better Middlesbrough sessions we liked to go to was a craft activity at Acklam Library. One week, Linda showed us how to make flowers using wires and a special type of paint that dried like stained glass.
“The session was very relaxed and friendly. I didn’t have to think, what can I do with Pat, as she was encouraged to join in too. There was always someone who sat with her. This gave me time to have a go at making the flowers, drink a coffee and chat to other people.
“I was hooked following that session.
“The same evening when Pat had gone to bed, I looked on the computer for the paint and ordered a basic kit.
“The kit arrived about the same time as a visit from Wales from my daughter and granddaughter. My granddaughter made a daffodil, but now it was my turn. So, I will not say every night, I turned the TV off, put on some music and made flowers.
“I practised my skills and on her next visit my daughter took some of the flowers back to Wales. She took them to her workplace and the money donated went to Alzheimer’s related charities. My eldest daughter took the flowers to her WI which then resulted in me having a table at her village scout autumn fair. I also did a demonstration.
“Pat lost her battle with Alzheimer’s last year but what saved my life was the flowers. If we had not attended that session, I would never have discovered how to make them or where to obtain the materials from.
“I think it is true to say that together with the wonderful love of my family and support from Ageing Better Middlesbrough, the flowers have kept me alive and busy since my wife’s departure.
“We still have so much help and support from organisations which are there for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s and their families, that we want to put something back in the way of appreciation and thanks.
“As this is my hobby, I only make flowers for me. If people like them and want to make a donation all well and good. I now attend a local craft fair where I have a stall. All proceeds go to local charities.
“I still attend groups that I went to with my wife, and some new ones such as the Men’s Healthy Cooking. I am now also a helper for Ageing Better Middlesbrough and have supported a few flower craft sessions to share my skills and experience with others.
“My granddaughter took photographs of my flowers and put them on Facebook with the caption:
“Look what my grandad gets up to. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”