Memory Care HERstory

My name is Beth Orsburn, and I’m the memory care director at Township Senior Living. In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to take a moment to celebrate Barbara, one of our neighborhood residents! 

Barbara W. grew up traveling between Missouri and Washington State, following the fruit harvest. The day after graduating from high school, Barbara left home with $10 in her pocket and only the clothes on her back, but she made her way, following her passion and becoming a beautician and decorator. She married her husband, Keith, and together, they had two sons, Steve and Gregory. The boys were raised in Connecticut, a time Barb fondly remembers. Keith was a submariner in the United States Navy and was gone for long stretches at a time, but Barbara kept a “tight ship” even in his absence. An outgoing woman with a love of style and cooking, she was appointed Queen of her Red Hat group, was voted “Best Cook,” and even won a Red Hat Queens beauty contest in Branson, MO. Her role within the Red Hatters, beyond bringing the glamour, was to find a different place for the 20-plus women to eat lunch every month, each wearing their red hats at Barb’s direction.

I feel it is important to honor the stories and history of individuals with dementia, because the residents represent the footprints we all make in life and how each and every person’s story matters. Their journey is what they leave to us for us: joy, experience, and history. Getting to know their families and friends widens our own circle and enriches our soul.

There are so many great tools to help us connect our residents to the past. Number one is the IN2L system that we have in memory care. It has so many things to associate the residents with their past. I also use books, photographs, and best of all, music. Music reminds everyone of a time and a place. This is such a common thread. Last but not least are the smells of food, flowers, and perfume; all the things that bring us to places in our past.

For more HERstories, check out these recent episodes of Arrow Nicely News!