Friday, 16 April 2021

A Box Of Memories & Dementia

 A tiny room box I made for my stepmother's 80th birthday has suddenly become useful in a way that I had never anticipated when I first made it for her 13 years ago (she is now on the cusp of her 93rd birthday). 

Sadly, after several weeks in hospital through January of this year, the powers that be finally deemed that her physical and mental deterioration was such that she could no longer stay in her own home and was going to need round the clock nursing home care. Dementia is advancing with a vengeance and we are at the stage where she dips in and out of lucidity constantly.  

Her room in the nursing home (she calls it her flat) is small and modest, therefore due to space and safety limitations, much thought had to be put into the decision of which possessions to bring from her old house. However, she did specifically ask for "her little room box" and it appears that not only does it continue to give her enjoyment in the same way that it always has, but it is also proving therapeutic in helping to stimulate her memories and conversation. 

Almost every single item in the little box has some sort of significance for her, as it includes family photos, certificates, books, items of clothing, magazines, Jim Reeves & Val Doonican LP's, etc., all replicated and miniaturised down to 1/12th scale. 

She played tennis and badminton for most of her adult life, right into her late 70s, and then laterally took up bowls which she then played until her late 80's. I had managed to replicate one or two of her special sporting trophies in miniature too. All the photos that you see in this post were taken 13 years ago when I had just completed it. Since then, she has added her own bits and bobs, including flowers and a stunning artisan made tennis racket in 1/12th scale - sadly I do not have any updated photos of the additional items in situ. 

Many of her early family photos were incorporated into this little scene, including some of her parents and sister. It never ceases to amaze me how at times she can talk lucidly about her childhood or something from years ago, but bless her, her short term memory is fraught with confusion. 

Her little memory box has created a lot of interest amongst her new carers. It has been mentioned that the concept of these little room boxes can be helpful to people with dementia, and how my stepmother is clearly benefitting in so many ways from it. So it has got me thinking....

An Old 1950s Room Box
I still have this old 1950s Living Room/Kitchen room box that I made for a "how to make" article in the Dolls House & Miniature Scene magazine (August & September issues - 2006) is literally gathering dust in my old loft workroom. A few years ago I had planned to sell it but in the end  I could not part with know how it is:) 

But times have changed, and priorities have changed. My plan is to create some additional carefully chosen relevant props and then donate the room box to the nursing home. Hopefully I will be able to bring an update on this 1950s project very soon and bring you more photos. 


Robin said...

The little room box you created for your Step-mother is really wonderful and it is rather special that it is a precious possession she wants with her and prompts happy memories, even if 'today' is no longer as real to her.
The idea of donating your 1950s room box is a brilliant idea and I'm sure it will be of great benefit to many other residents and bring them enormous pleasure.

KT Miniatures said...

Cheers Robin. At least the 1950s room box can be put to some use after all this time, there is no point in holding onto things for evermore if they are not going to be used and it has just been sitting in storage gathering dust. Am now trying to formulate a plan of what additions I can have that are specific to the 1950s. It maybe a combination of me creating some items but also using some vintage pieces I have here. We shall have to see. Celia

The grandmommy said...

This really touched my heart. What a sweet thing for a daughter to do. Funny you had no idea how valuable it would be to her in more than one way. I can see why she wanted to bring it with her. It is adorable.

Troy said...

So many wonderful details and great pictures too! Beautiful work. Thanks for the post. - Troy

KT Miniatures said...

Thank you Grandmommy and Troy for stopping by, and for your kind comments. Celia

Megan Wallace said...

This was such a poignant post. Thank you for sharing it with us. It is wonderful that your stepmother still takes an interest and I think you should encourage it for as long as you can.
When my mother in law ended up with dementia in an old age home, she adamantly denied the present and we couldn't get her to focus on a single thing long enough to have a conversation. She had retreated entirely to her youth and fixated only on the awful things that happened back then. She actually had a wonderful life but would keep returning to old grudges and imagined slights. It was the saddest affair to witness.
I hope that through your room boxes you can find a happy connection to your stepmother. Treasure the memories!

KT Miniatures said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment Megan. How very sad to hear about your mother in law, that must have been awful for all concerned. Dementia is such an awful thing. Celia