In the quiet corners of Swinton, where history echoes through the halls of a refurbished ballroom, something extraordinary is happening.
Meet Lesley and the remarkable team behind “Dancing with Dementia,” an initiative that transcends the confines of age, memory, and the ordinary to create a haven of joy for those touched by dementia.
A World Indifferent to Dementia
Humble Beginnings to a Community Lifeline
What started as a monthly dance for 24 brave souls soon blossomed into a movement, a lifeline for those navigating the complexities of dementia.
“Dancing with Dementia” is more than just a dance; it’s a celebration of life and a bridge between the past and present.
Lesley said: “My sister received a dementia diagnosis in 2014, and all we received was a piece of paper—a leaflet that offered minimal guidance, leaving us grappling with the enormity of the situation.
“Preceding this, she had battled lymphoma, and despite the challenging circumstances, we navigated a well-supported journey, knowing where to seek help and finding a robust support system.
“However, the dementia diagnosis felt like hitting a brick wall—an overwhelming, isolating experience with a grim prognosis and little assistance.
“Determined to make a difference, I delved into research and discussions, uncovering the surprising prevalence of dementia.
“It led me to a fascinating discovery from 1948 in America, where music, singing, and dancing were identified as therapeutic for those living with dementia.
“A conversation with a friend, experienced in ballroom dance and touched by her own mother’s dementia, sparked the idea of starting a monthly dance event.
“Initially, our monthly dances saw a modest turnout of 24 people, and after a few months, and we were scratching out heads thinking how can we get more people involved?
“Turning to professionals, we consulted the activity coordinators in care homes who suggested introducing live artists to complement the lively atmosphere of the refurbished ballroom.
“Fundraising events followed, building a portfolio of artists.
“The results were astounding—our last pre-pandemic meeting boasted a turnout of 180 people, which just goes to show how big a thing this is for people touched by this awful disease.”