West Sussex centre for young people with dementia offers fun and support

Clients at Centre Club in Worthing
Clients at Centre Club in Worthing

A day club in Worthing, which provides intellectually and physically stimulating activities for younger people with dementia, is inviting more people to join.

The Centre Club in Stone Lane, Worthing, caters for people with young-onset dementia – which is defined as those diagnosed before the age of 65.

For dementia awareness week, which started on Monday, one of the club’s 12 clients has shared her experiences with the Herald and Gazette.

Maureen Roberts, 64, had lived an active and independent life before being diagnosed with dementia last year.

She enjoyed bowling, for which she won several trophies, and going on cruises two or three times a year.

It was on a cruise that she married her husband, Peter.

Before getting married, she had worked for the community alarm service, visiting older and vulnerable people who have an alarm button in case they need emergency help.

Now, Maureen has to have an alarm button herself.

“I’m on the receiving end of it already,” she said.

Maureen knew things ‘weren’t quite right’ about five years ago.

“I was forgetting things,” she said.

“I was getting lost. I would get so far – but then I wouldn’t know where to go.”

Maureen does not go anywhere by herself now.

Suddenly, her life has become confined inside her home in Bluebell Drive, Littlehampton.

Joining the twice-weekly day sessions at Centre Club has really helped, she said, adding: “All the staff are lovely.”

Mornings are usually spent doing activities – anything from painting to quizzes to board games, said Lydia Starbuck, deputy day support manager.

“We provide people with lots of things to do,” Lydia said.

“The younger age group are intellectually very intact.”

She has encouraged Maureen to do crosswords, which clients often complete in a group together.

It has given Maureen the boost she needed to try them by herself at home again, too.

“We try to build confidence up,” Lydia said.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, which runs the Worthing club, people with young-onset dementia do not generally have the coexisting long-term medical conditions of older people.

They are usually physically fitter and dementia may be the only serious condition they live with.

The youngest person with dementia currently at the Centre Club is just 55 years old.

For this reason, there are also more physically exerting activities available at the club, such as snooker and table tennis.

Afternoons are usually spent on outings.

“A lot of people miss going out,” said Lydia.

Recent trips have included a visit to see the bluebells in Angmering Park and to garden centres.

“We go somewhere where we can get a cup of tea and a change of scenery,” Lydia said.

“Somewhere we can enjoy the moment.”

The club, which runs from 9.30am to 4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is now looking for more people to join its Thursday sessions.

For more information, call 01903 262666.

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