Archive for August, 2013

Living in the Memory Room

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 by morethan

Travelling home last weekend we listened to a fascinating programme rebroadcast on Radio 4 – about memory and dementia.  The journalist Kim Normanton had spent many years, she said, getting very frustrated at her mother constantly forgetting where her glasses were or coming back from the local supermarket with two large carrier bags of pick and mix – that had cost one third of her weekly pension amount.  Kim mourned those lost years as, of course, it had subsequently become clear that her mother was experiencing dementia.

Kim visited Hogewey Dementia Village in the Netherlands where people with dementia live in “proper” houses and take part in daily tasks – they can even go to the supermarket and shop.  Although much of the shopping is snuck back on to the shelves by the carers later the director of the village did point out that many people are properly shopping for things that then get prepared for supper and that continued involvement in tasks learned throughout our lives can keep dementia sufferers more alert and content than alternative models of care.   This has been clear for some time but it was so positive to hear of this larger scale caring environment that seemed to offer its residents so much more than many dementia sufferers experience when they go into care.

As Kim Normanton also explored the latest treatments , including the use of memory boxes, she comes to a realisation that she can still share memories with her mother if she first ensures that she understands where in time her mother’s current awareness and context is. By starting from her mother’s experience they share and remember much more – including a hymn that Kim herself had forgotten.

This was a gentle and thoughtful programme that reminded us here at More Than Mobility that amidst all the science and increasing range of products and services aimed at those suffering from dementia we as carers and relatives can still hope to maintain our relationships and shared memories a little longer if we understand more about how to access them together, starting from the current context experienced by the dementia sufferer.  Highly recommended, this programme is still available on the BBC Radio 4 website Living in the Memory Room, first broadcast Tuesday July 2, 2013: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0367slj