A NEW YEAR’S honour is recognition for those caring for loved ones with dementia, a volunteer who has been awarded a British Empire Medal has said.
Dave Mynott has been recognised for his service in volunteering with the Wednesday Dementia Club that meets weekly at Pontypool Museum and provides a space for those with the condition, carers and ex carers to meet and socialise.
“It’s set up for the purpose of people who care for loved ones with dementia as dementia is probably more cruel to those looking after the people who are ill than to those who have dementia. You lose the person while they are still alive,” said Mr Mynott, of Abersychan.
A television advert, produced for the Alzheimer’s Society, that has been running over Christmas illustrates the toll taken on carers, said Mr Mynott.
“It shows what carers go through caring for a loved one, which can be terrible as they are not that person anymore and it’s not uncommon for people with dementia to get verbally violent, at least, and a number of people in the group have experienced that.
“What we do is primarily emotional support, there is some practical support, but we really have a lot of fun and I do silly things.”
The 76-year-old grandfather-of-five has been involved with the group since it was established around 14 years ago after a social worker established it and asked him to run it as a volunteer.
Mr Mynott had previously worked in mental health support for charity Hafal, in Newport and Torfaen, after swithcing from a career in finance in his 50s and had experience, with his ex-wife, of caring for her mother who had dementia.
At the weekly group meetings Mr Mynott organises games based on television game shows: “They are my version of Family Fortunes, Give Us A Clue and Would I Lie To You? I put them into teams so newer people to the group get to know each other. The group has been going for around 14 years and has never been cliquey.”
As well as Mr Mynott’s game shows the club organises entertainers such as singers once a month as “music and singing is really good for people with dementia.”
Mr Mynott said: “We have a lot of fun but we have to share the sadness too. We’ve had nine people die since Christmas last year and five in the group have had to go into care homes as the care the family could give wasn’t enough.”
Due to the club’s informal nature carers who’ve lost their loved ones can still attend and Mr Mynott described them as an “asset” as they pass on knowledge and experience to newer members.
When Mr Mynott learned he was in line for an honour, which “I’ve had to be very quiet about for over a month” he said he was at first unsure if he should accept it.
“I think I’m accepting it on behalf of the people who care for loved ones and if it heightens awareness of how hard it is to care for someone with dementia than that’s for the better.”