Young visitor eases the symptoms of dementia
WHEN baby Lola Fletcher linked up with dementia sufferer Morleen, the reaction was astounding.
Morleen lives at Feros Care Bangalow Residential Village in the northern New South Wales Byron Bay hinterland, where Lola's mum Shelly works as a manager.
Shelly says the interaction between the six-month-old baby and 83-year-old lady began about four months ago, and visits are now weekly.
"There's a very special bond between Morleen and Lola," she said.
"We share a meal and Lola loves it. The interaction is definitely by choice.
"There are audible changes for Lola, she's wide-eyed and sleeps well after each visit.
"I benefit from (the interaction) too. I enjoy watching Lola engage.
"I can just sit back and enjoy my own lunch while she's being looked after."
Lola's grandparents and great-grandparents all live far away in Sydney so the weekly visits to the village mean she doesn't miss out on interaction with the elderly.
"As soon as Morleen sees Lola, her speech improves, her body is upright and she has an incredible maternal energy," Shelly said.
"Lola triggers fond memories for Morleen, probably as a mother and grandmother.
"I'm so pleased that Lola can spark such a noticeable change in people like Morleen. And it's not just Morleen who is benefiting. Lola and I get a real kick out of visiting each week."
Bangalow Village care manager Jo Dwyer says the interaction, apart from pleasing Lola and Morleen, also lifts the spirits of staff at the village.
"Morleen doesn't speak clearly until she sees Lola and her speech is back," Jo said.
Jo is hoping to widen the interaction between young children and the elderly by reaching out to Playgroups NSW and other groups and individuals.
"Another staff member has a new baby, and I'm hoping she will join in," Jo said.
Shelly also encouraged other families to visit.
"The village is a non-judgmental, calm and interactive place that is baby-friendly," she said.