Can Living In The Past Can Actually Help Dementia Patients?
Like a thin mist, jazz music drifts from the hallway. A Campbell’s soup poster lurks in the corner, festooned with pictures of bright red tomatoes and a promise that everyone needs soup. A visit to the local pub, decked out with a jukebox and offers of oversized mugs of beer, awaits, while a trip to the phantom bus stop may soon follow. Whether spending time in a diner from the 1950s or a post office from the ’30s, people with Alzheimer’s are enjoying a walk down memory lane as designers of senior care facilities find innovative ways to trigger pleasant memories, thereby reducing mood disorders and instances of dangerous wandering. As Baby Boomers turn silver at a rapid pace, people are recognizing the power of recreating scenes from the past for seniors whose long term memories are far better than their short term recall. Around the world, assisted living homes are bringing back the past through memorabilia, music, and even furnishings in the hope of thwarting depression and other mood disorders for older folks whose reminiscences of the past evoke joy.
Some facilities are also trying other approaches. While acknowledging the importance of making decisions and receiving validation for opinions, staff at Hogeweyk, a village in Holland designed for people with dementia, deliberately create an atmosphere where residents can live as normally as possible without leaving the facility. Within the secure perimeter, there’s a bevy of activity. People with Alzheimer’s can get their hair cut at the nearby salon, shop for groceries at the local market, and wait for a bus that never arrives. Having all this available helps residents maintain a sense of normalcy and control while protecting them from the dangers of the outside world. While these strategies won’t cure memory disorders, it is reassuring to see how people are working to enhance the lives of those who do struggle with memory loss. Whether you have a loved one who struggles with memory loss, you’re concerned about your own future, or you simply want to understand the unique ways that people are addressing the growing incidence of dementia, check out more promising alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s.