Living with a diagnosis of dementia can affect a person’s confidence to take part in new activities. This month, Kindred Spirits have kicked that theory into touch!

Kindred Spirits are a group of people living with young onset dementia that meet once a month as part of a support group, this year they have also started meeting on a monthly basis to take part in various activities. Young onset dementia refers to people that have been diagnosed with dementia under the age of 65. The group was formed following the realisation that there was very little support for people affected by young onset dementia, support that recognises the diverse issues younger people with dementia can face.

Kindred Spirits were fortunate to be provided with some funding from the Dementia Empowerment and Engagement Project (DEEP) and they decided they would like to use that funding to share activities they have previously enjoyed as well as to try new things. The group have already enjoyed trying curling, bowls, dancing and golf. This month however they decided to give the FIFA Women’s World Cup a run for their money and try a game of Walking Football!

The group met at Goals in Dartford, some travelling independently and others with support, and enjoyed a cheeky Mackie D’s for lunch while having a catch up. Myself and Karen, who has coordinated the activities, joined in with the discussions. One member had played Walking Football before but had lost his confidence so was keen to give it another go with his peers, others had never even played football before, let alone Walking Football. Everyone was asked how they felt prior to the activity, one participant stated that they felt active and they were looking forward to it.

The group were supported by a coach/referee who explained that the rules were the same as standard football just with no running, one member commented that they didn’t know the rules to standard football which resulted in all members, them included, having a giggle. Teams were picked and then the game began! Everyone seemed unsure at first but with lots of encouragement from myself and Karen the football was soon moving from end to end. There were lots of shouts of ‘stop running’, followed by a lot of laughter, there was also one foul which resulted in a free kick but thankfully no red card! There was also a bit of trickery by the goalkeeper who convinced the opposition’s striker that he had to shoot the other way! The game ended 5-4, nobody cared who won as they had had so much fun. The activity was finished off with a penalty shoot out where one member who had been quiet throughout the match took his chance to shine by scoring a hattrick and another member, who had never played football before, scored a very convincing penalty, she claimed years of horse-riding must have given her a strong right foot.

After the activity we asked how everyone felt, it was 10/10 all round. One member told us it was the best activity we’ve done so far and another commented that he would like to bring his sons back for a game. They all agreed they were worn out but in a good way.

If you, or someone you know, are affected by young onset dementia and you would like to find out more about the Kindred Spirits Support and Activity groups please contact Sarah Taylor on 01474 533990 or email [email protected]