Dementia care

Thanks to Allen Power for this link to a BBC news story about a Care Home in Wiltshire. There is a video as well as the news story itself, and if you have a few minutes it is well worth having a look. Most of us will have contact with Care Homes at some stage in our lives, either through a relative, work or indeed our own long-term care.

I have been one of those who visited relatives and felt so helpless, especially in the case of my Granny who had dementia. Then, later on in life as a Parish Minister I was a regular visitors to Homes in my area. At Christmas time it was easy to judge the strength of the care in any given Care Home. At one place I visited there was dancing, entertainment, community singing and all sorts of laughter. People joined in and it was lively and bright.

Sometimes it was a pleasure visiting residents, sometimes it was challenging, often I felt useless, not knowing how to connect. In time I learned that any link to the past could often provoke an amazing response, and the old-old (as against the young-old like me) frequently had a connection with Bible Stories, prayers and hymns from their childhood.

The Marlborough Care Home has instituted a memory room focused on the 1950s where residents can sit and remember, prompted by artefacts, books, magazines, old radio streaming and best of all, help from staff and each other. I was interested in the video to see telephones, electrical appliances and other domestic items that I vividly remember using, and can well imagine how being able to see them, touch them and talk about them, stimulates older people to link into memories of long ago.

The resident in the video, apparently has severe dementia, but her life has been turned around by the memory room. She leads a much more active life. In addition many residents no longer need the drug regime they once used.

Let me know what you think.

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9 Responses to Dementia care

  1. Mina says:

    In the 1980’s my old boss (a Director of Nursing) introduced ‘memory sessions’ in the care homes and geriatric wards. Unfortunately these were only as good as the staff running them Too many found them a chore as they reckoned their job was to nurse the patient and not ‘entertain’ them. One home had an excellent record, they compiled albums of photos, postcards, etc relating to the time when the patients would be young and active. I was privileged to visit this home with him and see the sparkle in the patients’ eyes. My boss was forward thinking but unsupported. I do hope that more homes are promoting this now.

  2. What a wonderful post.

    It was my my privilege to recieve a long placement in a care home for those suffering with Alzhiemer’s during my pre-ordination training. I confess that, upon the first day, I was scared to death. I later recognised that my fear was borne of my greatest fear for my own end – to be goen to my loved ones before I leave them in body.

    However, they kep the stories of each resident, photos of them when they were at work, at play, with families – photos of them back in normal life. It was helpful for them, of that I am sure, but also for me. I sat for hours with Ron who was formerly a Spitfire Pilot (and to me the epitome of a hero), so we talked about planes a lot. He liked that as much as I did. The other Ron worked at Didcot shunting trains, so we talked about trains. He liked the ladies too, of that I became very aware, and we chatted about good looking girls too.

    Without the memories, all is lost and the death already happened. I will never forget my time there, not for the rest of my life – it taught me so much about communication, about patience and about loving someone.

    (Incidentally, if you haven;t heard of it, a book I can recommend on this topic from a Christian perspective:
    Malcolm Goldsmith “In a Strange Land … People With Dementia and The Local Church” – 20004, 4M Publications)

  3. Tabor says:

    I remember my first encounter with an ‘old-folks home’ I was about 12 or 13 and doing volunteer work as part of my girl scout work. I remember seeing outside each patients room a large poster with photos and words about the story of that person’s entire life. It wasn’t done for dementia reasons but so that others remembered this aging person as a whole person in a complete light. I remember, even at that age, being very touched as well as enlightened about this whole process of aging.

  4. Marcia Mayo says:

    The Memory Room is a great idea and it seems to be working. I guess when I’m in the home, the room will include hippie beads and bell-bottom pants and all of the Beatles albums.

  5. friko says:

    Dementia is a subject which we’d all rather not explore, yet we all have to at some point, as you say. I have been a visitor in good and bad homes and also seen the care available at the patient’s own home.

    The disease is a dreadful curse I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    May I wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas, dear Freda.

  6. Lyn says:

    My mother had Alzheimer’s dementia. The home she was in provided things for people to touch memories. A piano was brought in for one woman who had played for the silent movies, then later, played with some symphonies around the US. It sat in the common area. Although she was barely intelligible when she spoke, she would often sit at the piano and fill the air with wonderful music. It often began in the style of silent movie accompaniment, but would sometimes change when…..

    Another resident had a lovely baritone voice. He had sung in operas for many years. He often broke into the most lovely songs. When the above lady played, he almost always began singing. And when he sang, she heard him and responded by joining him in whatever song he was presenting. The two never spoke that the staff noticed, yet they seemed to be connected during those times.

    As a lovely side note, my mother who seemed totally disconnected for her surroundings at this time, would hear the music and simply stop and listen intently. She played the piano and sang in operettas in high school back in the 1920s, then in the church choir for many years after that and had a sweet alto voice. She never joined the other two, but for those moments, her restless, aimless wandering behavior stopped and she looked quite peaceful. It was lovely for us to see.

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