That suitcase is one among about 40 which have been devised as a part of Home of Reminiscences, the Liverpool Museums’ multipronged dementia program, which simply celebrated its fifth birthday. This system additionally has its personal app, affords coaching days for caregivers and relations, and reminiscence walks, hourlong guided excursions of the Museum of Liverpool devised to become old guests to share their reminiscences of life within the metropolis.


A memory-stimulating suitcase with an Afro-Caribbean theme, one among about 40 suitcases which have been devised as a part of the museums’ dementia program.

Credit score
Robin Clewley

The suitcases cowl 1930 to 1980. Themes embrace transportation, the pure world and ethnicity; for instance, Irish and Afro-Caribbean persons are among the many teams represented. One suitcase accommodates objects like fliers from early Homosexual Satisfaction marches and membership nights; photographs of venues within the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s; and a pair of brown suede Hush Puppies, which some homosexual males wore to identify one another at a time when homosexuality nonetheless had not been decriminalized in Britain.

Backed by the British authorities and by state-funded British well being care companions, Home of Reminiscences has now educated greater than 12,000 folks nationwide, and is crossing the Atlantic: The Minnesota Historic Society plans to supply its model of the app within the fall.

The thought first got here to Ms. Rogers as a method of “supporting our ageing society,” she mentioned. “Globally, we’re all residing longer, and all of us need to reside properly, however there are older folks in our neighborhood who’re socially remoted,” she mentioned. “They’re lonely.” Amongst them, folks with dementia are significantly remoted, she mentioned, and museums with current collections may assist. Pictures, memorabilia and objects — be they the precise objects or photos of them on apps — assist rekindle reminiscences in folks with dementia and make them begin conversations.

Ms. Rogers additionally had a private motivation. Her mom “had a stroke a few years in the past,” at age 70, “and he or she had reminiscence loss issues and couldn’t talk,” she recalled. “For 10 years, we struggled as a household to attach along with her.”

She teamed up with colleagues to start out a dementia program, in search of enter from native caregivers, medical doctors and nurses, then tried it out along with her mom, Margaret. “I knew by her eye contact, by her squeezing of my hand, that she gained nice pleasure from having that have,” Ms. Rogers mentioned. “It was interactive, it was private. It received proper to the hub of Margaret’s life story.”


Veterans and their households exploring the naval-themed memory-stimulating suitcase.

Credit score
Pete Carr

The subsequent step was to supply the objects, narratives and experiences to dementia victims digitally, by way of an app. It was examined with individuals who had dementia, in addition to caregivers and households. Eileen Gilbert, whose 83-year-old husband, Dave, was discovered to have Alzheimer’s 4 years in the past, was a part of the app focus group.

When Dave’s dementia was recognized, “it was a shock to us all,” she mentioned, referring to her three youngsters, all of their 50s. Even earlier than the analysis, she sensed that one thing was mistaken. “There have been foolish issues that he would neglect,” Ms. Gilbert mentioned. “He would say, ‘Is without doubt one of the youngsters coming residence from faculty?’”

The tablet-based app affords an array of themes, and Mr. Gilbert selected photos of 20th-century Liverpool: the cinemas, the Blacklers division retailer with the rocking horse on the prime of the steps, the Punch and Judy puppet present.

“Now, I can put the pill on for Dave, and he can sit there and press the various things,” she mentioned. “It’s fascinating watching him: He acknowledges issues on it.”

“It’s stored Dave energetic, and that helps me,” she added. “He feels as if he’s nonetheless doing one thing.”


A part of a “reminiscence stroll,” a tour on the Museum of Liverpool devised to immediate aged guests to share their reminiscences of life within the metropolis.

Credit score
Pete Carr

In Minnesota, Maren Levad, a museum entry specialist on the historic society, mentioned that when her group determined to increase its new dementia program statewide, it appeared for packages and located Liverpool’s immediately interesting.

Caregivers in Minnesota, she mentioned, wanted instruments for “significant, person-centered engagement,” and “that is one thing Home of Reminiscences does brilliantly.” This system’s different attraction was “its clear connection to museum sources: utilizing the collections to service the general public.”

Looking for a partnership, the historic society — whose dementia program is predicated in St. Paul — contacted Home of Reminiscences the very week of the app’s launch. Due to funding from the Institute of Museums and Library Providers in america, the Minnesota society is now this system’s nationwide headquarters.

The app is being tailor-made to america in a quantity methods. One is an elevated deal with African-Individuals, who’re twice as prone to obtain diagnoses of Alzheimer’s, “have a really completely different expertise navigating our well being system, and completely different cultural expectations with regards to caring for elders,” Ms. Levad mentioned.

In Liverpool, subsequent on the agenda is exploring choices round augmented actuality, Ms. Rogers mentioned: utilizing digital know-how to recreate 3D object experiences on the display screen. “There’s an ideal alternative there to take objects and experiences into folks’s properties another way,” she mentioned, noting that they have been heading into uncharted territory. “That is our ambition.”

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