Huntingdon woman’s puzzle books help families bond with loved ones with dementia

Gill Ashby has launched Bright Old Sparks - they produce monthly puzzle books tailored for those with dementia and Alzheimer’...

Gill Ashby has launched Bright Old Sparks - they produce monthly puzzle books tailored for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Picture: SUPPLIED - Credit: Archant

A woman from Huntingdon has used her own experience of looking after her late mum - and now her father who has dementia - to start a business that will help others in a similar situation.

Gill Ashby has launched Bright Old Sparks, which now produces monthly puzzle books tailored for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The books feature a range of word, picture and number-based puzzles along with useful conversation prompts, to help families communicate with their loved ones.

The puzzles are graded which makes them suitable for people at different stages of dementia, or for use on good days and bad.

Gill said: “My mum always loved crosswords and word games. When she started suffering with dementia I was looking for increasingly easier puzzles for her to do.


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“Sadly there came a day when all I could find that would be manageable for her were children’s puzzles.

“It is insulting and degrading to expect any adult to have to do children’s puzzles and naturally my mum was upset at the idea. It is then that I realised I had to do something.

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Gill, as a former occupational therapist, already had some understanding of dementia and related conditions.

She researched the market and soon realised there was nothing out there that was appropriate. After some trial and error and market research with care homes, she created the books.

Gill continued: “Families often struggle to make conversation with their loved ones who have some form of dementia. The puzzle books are a great ice breaker. They can be used together to stimulate conversation, to reminisce about the past or simply to do the puzzles.

“Each month we have a different theme such as gardening or food, to reflect popular hobbies and interests. I know how hard it can be to keep conversation going when you are looking after or visiting someone with dementia.

“Feedback from users has shown that the Bright Old Sparks puzzle books are helping to bring families together and keep that all important communication flowing.”

Gill gives a percentage of each publication to Dementia UK and Alzheimer’s UK.

Bright Old Sparks puzzle books are £9.50 per issue or £7.50 if bought as an annual subscription

For more information contact puzzles@brightoldsparks.uk

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