(Montville, NJ)—Lenny White, a barber back at home in Northern Ireland, calls himself the world’s first dementia-friendly barber. He began in 2016 by bringing his barber skills to men with dementia in senior care homes across his homeland. Since then, he has traveled around the UK bringing not only his scissors and razors but period music to recreate the feeling of being in an old fashioned barber shop. During Christmas, he visited family in Denville, NJ, and brought his skills to the nearby Chelsea at Montville, 165 Changebridge Road, on Thursday, January 3, 2019.
“It’s important for the residents in care homes to experience the barber shop they used to go to back in the day,” he says. “It’s a therapy, an activity for the men.”
Lenny’s first customer at the Chelsea was Constantine, who received a trim and some bright conversation from the friendly barber.
“Typically, I try to create a relaxed atmosphere for the men. These men can sometimes be agitated and be feeling quite low. So my job is to make them feel good, but also to make them look good.”
He also brings a little bit of male bonding to the experience.
“We’ll talk about their jobs, what they used to do and their life, to sort of get them to open up.”
Constantine told Lenny about his six grandchildren. Lenny told Constantine about his five kids.
“Dementia effects both short term and long term memory, but activities like this can bring back good memories,” said Tom Kranz, Director of Communications for Chelsea Senior Living. “The music and the friendly chat Lenny brings can transport these men back to the good times in their lives. It engages them and just makes them feel good.”
While Lenny’s visit was a one-time treat, Chelsea has many ongoing programs in its Country Cottage dementia communities including music therapy, specially designed exercises and activities that stimulate memory and keep residents moving.