Nursing Home’s Retro Rooms Help Dementia Patients Remember the Past

For patients with Alzheimer’s disease, sensory cues involving sight, sound, and touch can be used to rouse otherwise hard-to-reach memories. One elder-care facility in Pennsylvania has tapped into this idea of “reminiscence therapy” using rooms that emulate the 1930s, '40s, and '50s.

In the dementia wing of the Easton Home, Alzheimer’s patients can lounge in the vintage kitchen furnished with a cast-iron stove and wringer washing machine, or dance in the living room where there’s a wood-paneled radio (actual music is played from an iPod hidden inside the radio cabinet). A neighboring hallway is lined with images and memorabilia that evoke memories of travel, marriage, parenthood, fishing, the military, and cars, with small signs offering prompts like, “How did you learn to drive?”

This nursing home isn’t the first to offer specialized memory units for patients with Alzheimer’s. The Cedar Lake Village retirement community in Olathe, Kansas, is building an assisted-living facility that will feature a 1968 Ford pickup in the courtyard. In the UK, residents can take a stroll down Grove Care Ltd.’s “Memory Lane,” which features a pub, post office, and grocery store inspired by the 1950s.

There are about 5.3 million people with Alzheimer’s in America today, and that number is only expected to increase as the Baby Boomers age. While reminiscence therapy isn't a cure, it has been shown to improve mood and curb agitation in patients with the disease. “It takes them back to a place that they’re familiar with and they can talk about their stories and share their experiences,” Easton Home's community life coordinator, Jennifer Woolley, told the Associated Press. “You’re just walking into the past and they love it.” 

[h/t: Morning Call

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

The Force Field Cloak
This Glowing Blanket Is Designed to Ease Kids' Fear of the Dark
The Force Field Cloak
The Force Field Cloak

Many kids have a security blanket they bring to bed with them every night, but sometimes, a regular blankie is no match for the monsters that invade their imaginations once the lights are off. Now there’s a glow-in-the-dark blanket designed to make children feel safer in bed, no night light required.

Dubbed the Force Field Cloak, the fleece blanket comes in several colorful, glowing patterns that remain invisible during the day. At night, you leave the blanket under a bright light for about 10 minutes, then the shining design will reveal itself in the dark. The glow lasts 8 to 10 hours, just long enough to get a child through the night.

Inventor Terry Sachetti was inspired to create the blanket by his own experiences struggling with scary nighttime thoughts as a kid. "I remember when I was young and afraid of the dark. I would lie in my bed at night, and my imagination would start getting the best of me," he writes on the product's Kickstarter page. "I would start thinking that someone or something was going to grab my foot that was hanging over the side of the bed. When that happened, I would put my foot back under my blanket where I knew I was safe. Nothing could get me under my blanket. No boogiemen, no aliens, no monsters under my bed, nothing. Sound familiar?"

The Force Field Cloak, which has already surpassed its funding goals on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter, takes the comfort of a blanket to the next level. The glowing, non-toxic ink decorating the material acts as a gentle night light that kids can wrap around their whole body. The result, the team claims, is a secure feeling that quiets those thoughts about bad guys hiding in the shadows.

To pre-order a Force Field Cloak, you can pledge $36 or more to the product’s Indiegogo campaign. It is expected to start shipping in January 2018.


More from mental floss studios