Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Friday, 21 January 2011
1970s makeover for care home's young dementia patients
Record player
Access to record players and vinyl records can soothe younger patients

Lava lamps, record players and flying ducks are being used by a Cambridgeshire care home to help its younger dementia patients.

Priory Grange in St Neots is opening a 1970s-inspired ward for residents in their 50s.

"We're trying to create an environment that triggers a time in their lives that was most influential to them," explained Linda Hallett.

The home's hospital director hopes it will give them a sense of place.

"The thing about dementia is long-term memories tend to stay intact," Ms Hallett said. "The short-term memory diminishes, and new information is not easy for them to absorb."

"We're looking at a time in their lives when they were in their early 20s," she continued. "It's an influential time, the first time you leave home, or go to college, when you have your first relationships, or get married.

"And music. of course. We tend to stay quite focused on the music of our early 20s."

So a 12-bed ward is having a 1970s-style makeover in a bid to offer Priory Grange's younger male patients familiar surroundings.

Retro wallpaper

TV set in 1970s sitting room
Decorative touches from the 1970s could reassure the confused

While most people with severe memory loss are much older, dementia affects around 15,000 people in the UK under the age of 65.

"The losses are enormous because you're talking about someone who is working age," said Ms Hallett. "They have financial commitments, they might have young children, teenagers, so that whole family is fragmented by this illness.

"I've known of cases where a family has lost their home because they couldn't keep up with mortgage repayments."

Retro wallpaper will be used on some of the walls. Suitable decorations, posters and artwork have been sourced. There will be record players with the vinyl records of the men's youth.

The corridor will look like a street with front doors painted bright colours with door knockers, with shop fronts. There will be signs to help residents find their rooms.

The idea is not a new one.

Care homes initially developed it for their older residents, recreating the interior decoration of the 1930s or 1940s.

Recreating the environment of their youth helps soothe patients.

The stress and anxiety of not remembering where you are and who you are with can lead to aggressive behaviour.

"When they wake up in the morning they don't wake up knowing where they are," explained Ms Hallett. "They look at a face that they saw yesterday and they're just not sure who you are, and they know they should know you but they just can't place you.

"We have to put those things in."

Alzheimer's: My mother, my child
29 Jul 10 |  People & Places
Diagnosed with dementia at just 36
11 Feb 10 |  Health
Dementia 'losing out' on funding
03 Feb 10 |  Health
Living with early-onset dementia
06 Jan 09 |  Health
Author Pratchett has Alzheimer's
13 Dec 07 |  Entertainment


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific