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LIVING LIBRARY: Making The Most Of Memories

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Each stage of life is special and rewarding and worth sharing and at a Dallas Center nursing home, they`ve come up with a new way to celebrate all of life's stages.

Ask anyone at Spurgeon Manor and they’ll tell you, life wasn’t always like this.  It used to take less time and effort to get around.  Time itself passed quickly back then, back when schedules were packed.  Back before they packed up and moved to Spurgeon Manor.

Betty McClure has discovered she has time now to let a lifetime worth of memories marinate and to sit and visit while Spurgeon staff member Lauri Rouse listens.

“I`ve always been looking for ways that we can get our residents` stories out there a little bit more,” Lauri says. Last summer, it dawned on her: Spurgeon Manor is a living library.  Why not have the activity staff turn those stories into real life books?

Kathy Mahler and her sister Sandy love to stop by, open their mother Sylvia`s life story book and watch her eyes light up. “Sometimes we`ll ask her questions about things that we don`t necessarily remember like who her best man and maid of honor were and she can come up with the answers pretty often,” Sandy says.

It’s also a good way for staff members to get a quick look at someones life and know what’s important to them.  Flipping through the pages, they`ll learn Sylvia likes music from the 1940`s, likes her food spicy, and wishes more presidents were like FDR.

But the nurses aren`t the only ones learning.

Sylvia’s daughter Kathy explains, “The question was, 'if there was one thing you could do all over again, what would you do?  And she answered, 'I would marry Bob again.'  And that just brought a lump to my throat `cause it solidified my memory of their relationship.”

The books are a way to share, a way to learn, and a way to pass the memories along.

“Then if your grandkids ever do a school project, they can borrow it.  They can borrow it…You betcha and then when I`m through with it they can use it,” Betty says.

The staff at Spurgeon Manor got the idea from a presentation made by the Alzheimer's Association.