Match point: Side by Side volunteering

A Side by Side volunteer in Wales is helping a person with dementia roll back the years with regular badminton games.

Read this story in Welsh

After working as a pharmacist for nearly 40 years and caring for his mother, who had dementia, Roger Walker understands the challenges that people affected by the condition can face.

He’s also seen how people with dementia can be supported to continue living a full life, something he now draws on as a Side by Side volunteer.

‘With the help of trusted others, we helped my mother live independently for as long as possible,’ he says.

‘When I retired, I was keen to help those affected by dementia and to provide that trusted support.’

Roger and Yvonne

Roger says Yvonne is a fiercely independent lady.

Weekly activities

Roger, who lives in the Vale of Glamorgan, has been volunteering for the past two years with Side by Side, our service to help people with dementia keep doing the things they love.

Roger supports two people with dementia through separate weekly trips and activities. He and Yvonne began by going on long walks and chatting in coffee shops, before her daughter suggested badminton.

‘I knew Yvonne had played at club level in the past and was keen to play again, and although I had not played for more than 40 years I was willing to give it a try,’ says Roger.

‘Any thoughts that we would turn up at the local leisure centre and pat the shuttlecock to each other for 20 minutes were soon dispelled,’ says Roger.

Yvonne has hearing loss, for which she wears a hearing aid and also lip-reads. She sometimes has trouble remembering the score or recognising the court markings, which are overlaid on basketball and five-a-side football markings. Despite this, she has been able to showcase her impressive abilities.

‘Any thoughts that we would turn up at the local leisure centre and pat the shuttlecock to each other for 20 minutes were soon dispelled,’ says Roger.

‘I found that Yvonne had retained much of her court guile and many of her skills, and I was in for a bit of a runaround if I did not improve.’

Winning shot

Someone recently told Roger that they hoped he lets Yvonne win their games, a perspective that he feels misses the point.

‘You only have to see the evil twinkle in Yvonne’s eyes when she has had me running about the court before she hits the winning shot!’ he says. ‘A point won competitively provides the necessary feel-good factor and rolls back the years.’

‘Yvonne is a fiercely independent lady. To play a very small part in helping her family maintain her independence is a privilege,’ says Roger.

Roger says Yvonne has gained confidence in her own ability, and in recent months she has started to teach her daughter how to play.

‘The challenge of Side by Side is to help people feel good about themselves and not prematurely become a shadow of the person they were,’ he says.

‘Yvonne is a fiercely independent lady. To play a very small part in helping her family maintain her independence is a privilege.

‘For me, Side by Side provides the ideal opportunity to help.’

Volunteer with Side by Side

Help someone with dementia keep on doing the things they love – you’ll both be making a big difference to each other’s lives.

Find out more

Dementia together magazine: June/July 19

Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now
Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now

1 comment

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Reading how SIDE BY SIDE helps dementia sufferers was ver inspiring

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