How flat irons and ration books are helping fight dementia

Acitivities co-ordinator at the Grangewood Care Home, Jackie Toolin with resident Jean Launder and some of the artifacts that are forming part of the growing collection for the reminiscence room.
Acitivities co-ordinator at the Grangewood Care Home, Jackie Toolin with resident Jean Launder and some of the artifacts that are forming part of the growing collection for the reminiscence room.
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FLAT irons, ration books and records are just some of the items that could help make a real difference to the lives of the elderly.

A Sunderland residential home is hoping people will come forward with objects from the 1940s to 1970s to help fill a new reminiscence room.

Grangewood in Houghton, wants to help its residents trigger memories of the past by looking at the objects they would have seen on a daily basis in their younger days.

Jackie Toolin, activities coordinator at the home, said the room will be beneficial to people with dementia.

“I created a reminiscence trolley that I took round to people,” she said.

“It had common objects from the past that local people would remember, such as a miner’s lamp, a flat iron, a ration book, newspapers and other bits and pieces that people would have seen on a daily basis as they were growing up.”

The trolley was such a big hit with residents that staff, who try to devise activities around people’s history and interests, were given the go-ahead from Care UK to expand it so items from the past 70 years will fill an entire room.

“We hope to create the feeling of a parlour-type room where people can sit and relax by themselves, or chat with us, or their friends and family,” said Jackie.

“Everyone likes to be surrounded by the familiar, but this is even more the case for people with dementia – it manages to be comforting and stimulating at the same time and it is an important part of enhancing our residents’ wellbeing.”

She added: “It is incredible how many memories are triggered by the sight of former household items such as ornaments, old photographs of the area, furniture, radios, crockery, records and clothing.

“For us as care givers, this is invaluable, because we are able to learn a lot more about the person, their past and their interests, and that helps us build genuinely individual care around each of our residents.

“This, in turn, keeps them active and engaged, and helps to maintain life-skills.”

Anyone with suitable items can contact Jackie on 379 0354.