Japanese Memory Groups

Dr Jennifer ButeThe Japanese Memory Group is based on the Japanese ethos of high regard for older people. Japanese Professor Kawashima has demonstrated that regular 'Reading Aloud, Mental Arithmetic and Writing' activates brain activity in older people, and restores communication and independence in those with dementia if done on a regular basis.

I met Professor Kawashima at an International Dementia Conference in London, in March 2012. The evidence impressed me so much that I decided to set up a group. We meet twice a week for half an hour before going into lunch. We started with ten people and now have thirty, but not everyone always remembers to come! We now have written evidence of increased MMSE scores and improved behaviours.

Abilities range from Mild Cognitive Impairment to Severe Dementia. We use the principles of the 3 R's, and after trying different materials, I started producing booklets. Each contains materials that are usable at all stages.

Japanese Memory GroupSome work through booklets by themselves with minimal help, but others need 'one-to-one' attention. We tend to start with singing familiar songs. Then we read aloud, either individually or in turns with lots of encouragement and appropriate affirmation.

We also discovered people loved colours and shapes, the basic bricks of early education and colouring in. Writing is introduced by drawing circles round items or lines joining up things, before more is required. We always move on to the next task before anyone is overwhelmed. Mental Arithmetic is completed using simple sums, but we miss out sums that might discourage or overwhelm, and praise for effort.

At the end of the 30 minute session, all depart with a feeling of achievement, accomplishment, smiles and warmth.

I have produced some materials that you can use if you are interested in starting a group yourself, or even just working through them with your spouse or those you care for. You can download a sample booklet here.

Each booklet is 4 A4 pages long, and there are now two series of booklets, each containing 26 booklets. If you meet twice a week for 30 minutes, this is enough for 6 months of activities. You can purchase the first series of these materials, and the newly released second series on the subject of food:

  1. 1. USB Stick with PDF versions of 1st Series: £20
  2. 2. ZIP file containing PDF versions of 1st Series: £15 (6.5MB delivered by email within 48 hours)
  3. 3. ZIP file containing PDF versions of 2nd Series: £15 (4.3MB delivered by email within 48 hours)

Special offer: 3 USB sticks for the price of 2 [calculated in shopping cart]