Friday, 5 June 2015


Don't suppose anyone watched this programme on Channel 4 last night? I found it absolutely fascinating and totally heartwarming! How wonderful that the staff in the home went to such lengths to help the residents retain their memories.
I found their ethos of going into the worlds of the dementia sufferers rather than trying to bring the dementia sufferers into our world to be totally in line with the way in which I have treated my Mum.
In the early days, just after the stroke, Mum would ask me what I'd done with the dogs - we had both had Retrievers and instead of saying they were being looked after somewhere, I bluntly told her that they had all died. She looked utterly crestfallen and I felt awful. She talked about Dad too and asked how she could get hold of him. As he'd been dead 10 years by this point, I had little choice but to tell her the truth, but again it hurt me almost as much as her to do so.
Now, as the dementia has progressed, I am able to immerse myself totally in her world and whilst I'd don't actually lie to her, if she asked me about Dad now, I would say something soothing rather than insisting she know the truth.
Often the fondest memories we have are of our childhood or earlier years. Why not nurture those memories then for people who have lost all of their 'present' to the disease? The residents in Poppy Lodge looked so happy singing along to the old songs and dancing to 1940s Vera Lynn tunes.
The home looked to be very stimulating with lots of old photographs on the walls relating to the residents' former lives, 1940s costumes and lots of activities.
Dementia sufferers often struggle with their night and day. To help with this, the night staff come to work in their pyjamas to help reinforce the visual clue that it's nightime.
Far from being another depressing look at the alarming increase in dementia sufferers and the often dismal levels of care they receive, this was a glimpse into how care could be and, in my view, should be.
I know the hardest part here is for those people left behind as they fade out of the sufferer's life and are replaced by older pre existing memories. I have been very lucky that my Mum has always known who I am, but I know that if that were not the case, I would rather join her in her past to catch glimpses of happiness in her reminiscing than try to keep her in the present for my sake.
For my Mum, her very poor physical health has now overtaken her diminishing mental health, but for the residents of Poppy Lodge, I was very encouraged to see that there is a more positive way to support dementia sufferers. Well worth a watch if you didn't catch it last night.


  1. I watched it and found it sad, interesting and lovely all at the same time. My maternal grandmother was in a home and also a dementia sufferer - if only the home had been like Poppy Lodge. She was brought to the funeral of her husband, my grandfather, not realising who he was and why she was there. I remember though she did have fleeting moments of tears as if she remembered things vaguely. No amount of photos which we took to her care home would even jog her memory a bit. Like your mum, it was her physical health that she had to contend with in the latter few weeks of her life. It is a frightening disease. I worked with someone last year whose husband had just been diagnosed at age 54. So sad.

  2. I was fascinated by this programme and this different approach to dealing with dementia. The staff were absolutely wonderful. I don't see the approach as lying to the sufferers, rather than allowing them to live their life in a period which they are living in. I think it was explained as that part of their brain no longer working so they can't live in the period we are currently living in. I'm a great believer that as long as people are happy, then that's fine. I recently visited an elderly neighbour in hospital. She was quite alert when I first turned up, but after 10 minutes or so I could see her beginning to get confused and struggling to remember things. There's no point in people getting upset x

    1. Absolutely. The staff were amazing weren't they, but then that, in the main, will be due to the leadership and ethos!