New concept for Memory Care facilities...

Started by

In the Washington Post [12/30/17 issue] there is an article about a memory care facility in Germany that is experimenting with a new concept. Since most dementia cases long term memory is present, why not design a large room that represents that era in time. Sort of like a museum of that place in time, with music playing from that time, too.

Example for here in the States, design a room from the 1940's or 1950's. Have in that room products that were popular back then. Old TV set, old radio, manual typewriter, old Sears catalog, old LIFE magazines, ice cream advertisements, grocery store products, etc. That will get the residents talking to each other about those items and that section of time in their life that they can remember so well.

What was amazing, according to the German memory care facility, the residents started to eat better, drank more water, and suddenly they were able to go to the bathrooms by themselves.

Another thing this memory care did was teach the Staff about this nostalgia, so that they could relate to the resident. The facility also had a Hollywood themed room which was quite popular among the residents.

I would love to see that happen here, but I could be a fly on the wall at Corporate and hear someone say "the space would take up 3 rooms that could be used by paying residents".... [sigh].


I imagine it was the educated staff as much as the actual furnishings that caused the improvements, coupled with activities that were actually focused on resident's interests instead of the usual boring generics - like bingo. The problem I see with this approach is in deciding exactly what era to focus on - ages in mom's nursing home range from those in their 50's and 60's to those like my mom in their 90's and more. And not every fad or trend that springs to mind in a given generation is something that was enjoyed by everyone; for example I searched out swing and big band music from mom's era only to realize that she was really a country girl who preferred singers like Hank Snow and toe tapping fiddle music.
I find that Europe seems to have more programs in place for the elderly.
The room ur talking about is happening here. My daughter just set one up in the AL she works in. She was able to purchase a real look baby. Got a cradle, rocking chair. I had some "Old Time" magazines, an old sewing basket and an afghan I gave towards the project.
I live in St. Louis and there's a facility like that here although I can't remember the name. It's an old Victorian house that's been converted. There's even a dog that sits beneath the front desk.

I was only there once but there was a room that had an old Victrola and period hats and coats for the residents to don. There were period magazines and an old TV (which didn't work but it looked charming in the room).

There was also a baby's room with a cradle and cloth diapers (no pins) and a few baby dolls. The room was decorated with ducks and was precious.

Throughout the living areas there was needlpoint in various stages of completion (no needles) that the residents could pick up and look at, the furniture was in keeping with the motif of the facility (some Victorian, some current up to the 1950s). All the books and magazines were of another era and it was all very charming and cozy. I was there to do a hospice assessment and the client I was seeing had no idea where she was or what she was doing. I was unable to do an assessment on her because she didn't speak and I spent my hour following her around from one room to another. The nostalgia was completely lost on her but I was completely charmed by it and thought it was such a creative way to care for elderly people with dementia.

Freqflyer, the facility you described sounds like it picked up where the one I saw left off, going even farther to train their staff in history so they can talk with their residents about what they remember and that Hollywood Room sounds amazing!

It's so interesting that the German facility is able to correlate their patient's food and fluid intake to their surroundings but it makes sense. Most memory care facilities attempt to offer a home like atmosphere but beneath the paint and other homey items it's still a facility and it looks like one too. What you described and the place I saw took it further. I hope these places are just the beginning of a new concept in memory care but pretty soon memory care is going to have to begin accommodating baby boomers and the decor will have to change but I think it's money well spent. Thank you for sharing that article with us.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support