SPL club invites people with dementia to share football memories

09 May 2012

The last Memories FC event attracted more than 200 men and their carers

The last Memories FC event attracted more than 200 men and their carers

People from Aberdeen and surrounding areas, who have dementia or memory problems, are being invited to Pittodrie Stadium next month to take part in a football reminiscence event hosted by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

Following the hugely successful event in Hampden in November 2011, which was attended by more than 200 men and their carers, GCU researcher Andrew Lowndes has taken the Memories FC project on the road to football clubs around the country.

On Wednesday May 16, Pittodrie bosses will open the doors to fans who will be be taken on a nostalgic journey through Scotland’s footballing glory days, with the opportunity for discussion over a cup of tea.

The project has enjoyed the support of Aberdeen FC manager Craig Brown since its launch in 2010.

Craig said: “Using football memories as a catalyst for people with dementia is an inspired idea and the results to date have been extremely impressive. Dementia and memory loss is so debilitating, not just for the person, but also their family and friends, and anything that can assist to unlock those treasured memories is something very special indeed.”

Andrew Lowndes, of GCU, said: “The Hampden event was a great success and many of us found it quite an emotional experience. Most of the participants had some form of dementia and were from nursing and residential homes.

“It was very quiet as we began, then we could feel the excitement build as the men were shown old photographs of some of the players from yester-year. They began shouting out names of players and some cheered when their team was mentioned and booed when their opponents were. The banter was terrific and we are looking forward to the same sort of excitement when we visit Pittodrie.”

Professor Debbie Tolson, of GCU, said: “Recalling memories, and doing so in a sociable, friendly context, provides important stimulation for the brain that helps to slow down the rate of decline. Football is unique because even those who were not passionate followers of the game have memories associated with it.

“Reminiscence work is about engaging the person with dementia and encouraging them to chat about their memories. It can be done by family members, even grandchildren, if they understand the principles of how to go about it and have some photos and other items to trigger thinking.”

The event in Aberdeen is funded by a Knowledge Exchange Grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council & the Scottish Funding Council. Similar events have been held at Hampden Park, Motherwell FC and at Bupa Care Homes, Bield Housing and Care Day Centres and NHSGGC Resource Centre in Kirkintilloch.

The project is being carried out by the Scottish Football Reminiscence Partnership, which includes Glasgow Caledonian University, Scottish Football Museum, European Former Players Association (EFPA), Alzheimer Scotland, St Louis University USA, and David McGillivray, of the University of the West of Scotland’s Creative Futures Research Centre.