"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Feb 16, 2017

The House of Memories

There’s an interesting museum in Denmark for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  I heard about this on the radio last year, and since my own memory is shaky at times I’ll report the gist but supply this link for the House of Memories.

The ‘museum’ is chocked-full of 1950's d├ęcor. Patients are greeted at the door with a woman wearing sturdy shoes and a housedress.  As she removes her apron she apologizes, and invites everyone inside her lovely home.

When we lose one sense, sight and hearing the most common I would guess, our other senses pick up the slack.  Pretty good planning on someone’s part.   As I lose my sense of touch I rely on my vision to detect contours.  A lower extremity is pretty much numb from an accident, so under the blankets when both my feet are cold only one of them knows it.


Apparently something similar occurs with the loss mental acuity.  Music and touch are popular methods of reaching those fading from us; another example I heard firsthand was a man who sends his Mother fudge made from her original recipe. Caretakers report Mom perks up once she starts munching and begins to  recall events from her fudge-making days.

It doesn’t take much.  In the House of Memories, faux-wartime coffee is served from tins; some take a spin while listening to period music; and everyone is encouraged to try on old hats on the way out. Totally fun.

Jumping forward in time, which era might kick-start our own psyches, even temporarily?  For me it would have to be the 60’s, with the Beatles or the Monkees serenading my entrance to the Levitt-manufactured home popular at the time. City Mice could afford to become Country Mice.

Incarnations of I Love Lucy and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Sugar Pops Pete and Tony the Tiger.  Glass bottles of milk delivered to the front door, along with collectible colored glasses covered with that stringy white stuff, remember? Roller skates with keys.  Fishnet stockings…oh, wait…I think they’re back, but Jeez, ladies, how heinous when you get a hole.  Maybe they use stronger threads now.

Here in California, San Diego had a similar idea and created a faux-city of San Diego in the 1950's.  We all need touchstones of one sort or another.  Me, I never travel without my Slinky.

My sister, Hillary, is also a writer.  She doesn’t like to toot her own horn, but she began a storyline-blog as she cared for Mom,, diagnosed with Dementia, during her final years.  Hillary is a born researcher, and just mention one little tidbit and she’ll later come back with 3 or 4 other examples to either bolster or dispute the claim.  Me, I too often rely on Wikipedia out of sheer laziness, but none of my posts are particularly life-altering.

Hillary on the other hand is a veritable fountain of what our Mom used to call “Useless Information,” but in reality no information is useless.  Hill struggled to identify and understand Mom's early symptoms, and to save her own sanity she dove into her research. While Mom is no longer with us, Hillary continues to offer tips on natural health and care-giving of the elderly. We have similar writing styles, as she, too, weaves stories and anecdotes throughout her posts.  She’s not trying to sell you anything, either.  Maybe when her book comes out.

So since today is her birthday, I thought I’d stop waiting for her to say, “Alright,” and publish a link to her web page, The Caregiver's Corner.  If you are currently a Caregiver for a loved one or know someone who is and is struggling, then by all means pass along her link.

Happy Birthday, Sis!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Andrea, and not just because of the ping-back to my blog. I think the idea of a house of memories is a fabulous one! Wouldn't it be nice if our elderly could just enter a room and pretend for a while. What an idea!!! Thanks, dear sister!!!

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