A newspaper picture recently caught my eye as one of the ladies in it is the dead spit of former Coronation Street character Ena Sharples – it’s the expression on her face, and the way she is holding a glass. The story is about the 1950s ‘Pit Stop’ diner that a care home has created for its residents.
There’s also the replica bus stop for patients with dementia at a hospital set up in a corridor as a ‘quiet and safe place’ to help prevent them becoming unsettled or anxious.
Often people with dementia try to make sense of the present by relating it to events in the past. In ‘Contented Dementia’, Penny Garner’s mother, a much travelled lady, made sense of being in the doctors’ waiting room by thinking she was at an airport, waiting for her flight to be called. It seems a small mercy, because in the past their identity was clear; they knew exactly who they were.
But, is this kind of deliberate, constructed reminiscence such a good idea? Most cases of people with dementia are those in their 80s and older, who’ve lived full lives for decades beyond their ‘pit stop’ days. Relating to them in conversation when time travelling is one thing – taking them back deliberately is another, surely? Environment is not the same as active therapy.
On the other hand, the replica bus stop is something in the here and now. People with dementia can feel that they are not quite in the right place; waiting at the bus stop meets that need, and gives a sense of purpose. I’d be interested to hear others’ thoughts and experiences.
There’s a small niche in our care home in Wantage that is perfect for bookworms and writers whatever their age! It’s a corner tucked under the stairs with a desk, a typing chair and a typewriter, surrounded by walls lined with books. Except they’re not real books – it’s thick wallpaper where the books look so real your hand goes out to pull one off the shelf. My well-being index shoots to 100% each time I see it. There will be places like this in Heaven, probably with cups of tea. Knowing how much I love it, the maintenance manager has given me some of the leftover wallpaper and the address of the supplier. Now all I need to do is to find a free wall in my own home, which would mean moving the hundred or so real books…
It’s often said that younger people look to the future, and older people to the past. But older Christians have a much better option – they look to Heaven, to the future that lasts forever.