When MindCare Manager, Saira, bought her 30th anniversary, limited edition Mazda MX-5 car, she knew she would turn heads – besides the orange colour, only 3,000 of these cars exist. Little did Saira know she would also turn the heads of people living with dementia who use the MindCare Dementia Activity Centres across Bromley.
Since regularly visiting the centres in her new car, more clients noticed the car asking more about it and sharing their car-related memories and stories.
Turning Memories into Positive Experiences
Seeing how much the clients took an interest, MindCare staff and volunteers created car-inspired games for clients to enjoy. These included recognising and matching car models, road signs, brand badges, word games and alphabet quizzes.
Clients shared stories about passing their driving tests, the cars they owned or desired, the freedom and opportunities being able to drive brought and what the future of cars looks like. Some clients also spoke about giving up driving as dementia progressed.
“I remember driving up to the Lake district, all around the tops of the hills.”
“When I got my first car it was a great feeling.”
“I remember my first car.”
“I did enjoy driving.”
The Impact of Giving Up Driving
While improving safety for people living with dementia and other road users, giving up driving due to dementia can have a significant impact on a person’s identity, self-esteem, social life, health, and wellbeing.
Driving often represents independence, freedom and social connection, particular to people living in rural areas. In many areas outside of cities, driving a car is one of the easiest ways to attend health appointments, take part in leisure activities, and meet with friends and family. Having to give up driving without affordable and practical alternatives can lead to social isolation and a faster decline in overall health and wellbeing.
Specialist dementia activity centres can help reduce the social isolation a person can experience after giving up driving. MindCare centres provide safe and stimulating environments for people to take part in activities and social interaction.
Saira said, “People may have had to give up driving because of dementia, but they still enjoyed reminiscing about their driving adventures and sharing those stories with each other.”