A rather curious idea is being proposed in Switzerland in response to the increasing number of people with dementia. A developer is planning to build a retro village in 1950’s style architecture and then staff it with carers disguised as gardeners, hairdressers and shop assistants. The residents will be free to roam around, albeit under subtle undercover supervision. The village will have a cinema (presumably showing old films) and shops (hopefully selling familiar old-fashioned fare not past its sell by date). It says there will be other facilities, so how about:-
- A TV with no remote control and just 2 or 3 channels;
- A twin tub washing machine with no digital programmes
- A coal or log fire instead of central heating;
- And real money – no plastic credit cards and no credit.
Goodness knows we need all the innovation we can get to help deal with the tidal wave of dementia that is engulfing our health services. But, I am not sure this isn’t an overly simplistic interpretation of reminiscence therapy. Certainly it is true that it helps people to feel secure if they are in familiar surroundings which is why moving people into residential care homes is still not an ideal solution.
I wish them well, and if it works, great.
Finding out about the past lives of residents is certainly one key to tailoring a support programme for dementia sufferers but it is not the whole story. ( For more on this see my earlier post by clicking on the TAG Cloud ” New Vision of Later Life ” – 3- Enriched Dementia Support. )
The title of this blog was lost in my head somewhere. When I Googled it I found it was the title of a song by Jethro Tull. Part of the lyrics are:-“Outside their lives go faster, Oh, we won’t give in, We’ll keep living in the past.”
A member of the group, Ian Anderson, wrote these somewhat prophetic words in 1969 and they sat in my head until now. Being reminded of them brought back happy memories of seeing Jethro Tull in my time at university in Sheffield in the 1970’s.
Remarkable serendipity – when I looked to the very next item on my Google search it was written exactly 40 years later by Dr G A Anderson. An article in Psychology Today entitled “Why it is important to stop living in the past”. In his words “nostalgia is bitter-sweet”.