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Ask a dementia advisor | Danine Irwin

Danine IrwinDanine Irwin Posts: 3 Dementia Advisor

Get practical tips on managing dementia symptoms, facilitating your loved one's wellbeing and improving their cognitive, physical, social and emotional health. Post your questions below and Danine will be in touch within 72 hours with a personalised response!

We are so excited to welcome Danine to our Expert Q&A Hub!

About Danine 👋

I have extensive experience working one-to-one and in small groups with residents living with dementia in care homes in North London and Hertfordshire. I facilitate wellbeing and reminiscence workshops, using principles from Montessori methodology, sensory stimulation, reminiscence, the use of food, cookery and other exciting resources. These sessions are person-centred and promote engagement and meaningful participation. Sessions offer psycho-social benefits enhancing quality of life and living well with dementia, thus improving cognitive, physical, social and emotional health. These activities also stimulate motor and communication skills, further creativity and social interaction with others.

I am currently partway through a master’s degree in Dementia Studies with the University of Hull from which, I love to put into practice the theory that I have learnt.

As a peripatetic freelance teacher, I also have experience working with children, young people and adults with learning difficulties, running workshops in schools and for local community groups.

From my own diverse experience and significant learning I am passionate about sharing knowledge, understanding and ideas with others, to help them, especially in enhancing the wellbeing and quality of life of those living with life-limiting illness, whilst maintaining their dignity and independence.

I look forward to connecting with you.



  • Mary78Mary78 Posts: 12

    Hello Danine, it's lovely to have you on board. Thank you so much for being here. I was hoping to ask your advice on activities - my mother was recently diagnosed with dementia and I'm looking for something simple but fun, something we can do together to keep her engaged. She loves all arts & crafts.

  • Danine IrwinDanine Irwin Posts: 3 Dementia Advisor
    edited October 18

    Hi @Mary78 Thank you for your enquiry; it's my pleasure to share some ideas and activities with you that you can do with your mum.

    What is important when choosing activities to do with your relative or friend living with dementia is to avoid making the activity too child like. Some art equipment and colouring books are designed for children and although you may think are suitable, can insult and patronise adults living with dementia, so always bear that in mind; instead, tap into their talents and creativity.

    It is nice to try to keep to seasonal projects, it gives you the opportunity you to chat about how nature changes as the seasons change and to look at special celebrations at a particular time of year.

    As it is autumn now, how about making some seasonal collages with crunchy autumn leaves, pine cones and conkers/acorns? You can incorporate the activity with a walk in the garden or park, to collect items that you could use.

    You could let mum arrange them as a display, or use PVA glue to stick them to strong card and make collages. You can help thread them on strings to make hanging mobiles. The textures and shapes are interesting and this type of activity promotes creativity and stimulation of motor skills. Be careful, though, that the conkers and acorns are not eaten.

    How about making a poppy/poppy garland for Remembrance Sunday? there are several templates available online that you could print off and mum could colour in, cut out and assemble. The use of bright colours helps people living with dementia visualise better. An alternative to colouring in and painting is the use of coloured tissue paper, tear little bits off, scrunch up into small balls and stick on to the template using PVA glue (again you can find a template of a poppy online, to fill in). This also encourages the use of fine motor skills and concentration.

    Another suggestion, is to do some scrap-booking with magazines - look through the magazines together and ask mum to chose her favourite things that she spots, tear the pictures out and stick them into a scrapbook. Add a title if you like. Doing an activity together encourages conversation and looking at pictures and photographs evokes memories.

    Be creative, be guided by your mum and have some enjoyable quality time together.

    All the best


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