All aboard the Brain Bus

SPELGA Mews residents experienced a one-of-a-kind service this month as a unique interactive bus claiming to fight tackle dementia and its symptoms parked up for a day.

Twelve elderly men and women sampled the puzzles and quizzes, reminisced with old movies, listened to music from a bygone era and even simulated cycling and driving as they used the newly developed Brain Bus last Wednesday.

The bus, which contains two interactive computers as well as a bigger LCD screen, is the only one of its kind in Europe and was funded by the FOLD Housing Association.

The activities onboard are aimed at tackling dementia by stimulating the minds and memory of people at different stages of the disease. Two local residents, who are both at the very early stages of developing dementia, enjoyed the puzzles and music of yesteryear during their half hour session.

Lorrie Daly, aged 92, reminisced about her younger years as he she watched old music videos of Val Doonican as well as enjoying the glamour of the Hollywood movies.

Eighty-five year-old Dinah Graham used her problem-solving skills to piece together a jigsaw revealing a dog similar to one she had as a pet many years ago.

These activities, which are all operated by a touch screen and can be controlled by the user, allow older people to continue making decisions and choices according to project co-ordinator Leslie Kelling.

“The aim is to support people living with dementia,” said Leslie who developed the bus during a study on the disease. “There are a wide variety of activities available onboard. People can go from working out puzzles to keeping fit with a cycling simulator to flying an aircraft . We had two old RAF pilots use it andit was amazing how quickly the skills came back and how much they enjoyed using it.

“People say to us how good it is to make choices again. When older people move into a home they tend to lose most of their decision-making power and that can be hard for them. We’re attempting to give some of that back while helping to tackle dementia.”

Carmel Weir, a carer at the home, said it was of great benefit to have the bus parked up for the day. “This is the second time we’ve had the bus here and the residents really enjoy it,” she said. “They like to get out and onto the bus and have that chance to see and talk about things from their past. We hope to have the bus back sometime very soon.”

For more information visit www.brainbus.co.uk.