Every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease. As the U.S. population ages, the rate of diagnosis will grow. African-Americans are two times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia than non-Hispanic whites.
Anyone wishing to learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia should check out a new program at the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), with the launch of the U.S. version of the award-winning “House of Memories” dementia awareness program. The program was originally developed in the U.K. by National Museums Liverpool to provide person-centered care for people to live well with dementia. The program offers training workshops, resources and activities, including the “My House of Memories” app, the first of its kind in the world.
The app features more than 100 interactive pages of MNHS collection items which can help those living with dementia draw on memories to create personal connections with family, friends and caregivers. The collection items include objects, photographs, music and video that were curated by people living with dementia and their caregivers, including African-Americans who selected items that connect to the black community.
“In working to develop the U.S. version of the app and training workshops, we were able to tap into our extensive collections in exciting new ways,” said Kent Whitworth, director and CEO of MNHS. “The app includes items like a Vikings fan helmet, toys and dolls, and civil rights images and audio. Seeing how these museum resources can create meaningful, person-centered engagement for American audiences, and African-Americans in particular, has been very rewarding.”
“We are proud to be working in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society, to launch ‘House of Memories’ in the U.S., to help Americans to live well with dementia,” said Carol Rogers, executive director for education and visitors at National Museums Liverpool. “Person-centered care is at the heart of our training and acknowledges that an individual’s personal history and memory are of huge importance.
Museums can be fantastic resources at helping unlock memories, improve communication and understanding, and enrich the lives of those living with dementia. We’re excited to see how the U.S. version of the ‘My House of Memories’ app will help Americans living with dementia and their caregivers to connect and share memories together.”
The “My House of Memories” app is free and can be downloaded to tablets and smartphones from iTunes and Google Play. Search for “My House of Memories” and look for the pink house.
MNHS will also hold training workshops across the state for professional and family caregivers, aimed at helping participants develop new skills and understanding in caring for those living with dementia. Participants will receive a toolkit and view training videos based on the real-life stories of people living with dementia.
The Mayo Clinic’s Charter House, Rakhma Homes and St. Paul African American Faith ACT Community are community partners on this project.
The initiative will complement other MNHS memory loss programs, including sensory-based tours, memory cafes and a baking lab. MNHS is a member of the SPARK! Alliance, an organization of Minnesota and Wisconsin museums focused on serving the memory loss community.
Family caregiver workshops will be held in spring 2019. To find out more about the workshops, visit mnhs.org/houseofmemories.