March 8, 2024

HERstory: Honoring the Journey of Individuals Living with Dementia

Category: Memory Care

Author: Lana Samuel, Memory Care Director

Women’s History Month

HERstory serves as a tribute to the unique journey, experiences, and contributions of an individual living with dementia. Each HERstory carries a rich past of memories, relationships, and accomplishments that define their identity. As dementia progresses, memories begin to fade. Preserving and sharing these narratives become invaluable in honoring the person affected and maintaining their dignity. At The Fremont Senior Living, we believe in acknowledging and celebrating each individual’s life story. Through this approach, we affirm the inherent worth and complexity of those living with dementia. It allows us to transcend the limitations imposed by their condition.

Through storytelling, we bridge the gap between the past and the present. This fosters meaningful interactions and cultivates a sense of belonging for individuals living with dementia. By embracing their narratives with empathy and compassion, we counteract stigma, dispel misconceptions, and promote a culture of inclusivity and respect for individuals affected by dementia.

Below is a HERstory about one of the residents living in our Memory Care Neighborhood.

Mary A., affectionately called Pat by her friends and family, was born in 1926. Pat tells colorful stories of growing up in Washington D.C. and Springbrook, MD, in the days of riding streetcars, open-air markets, wandering freely through the U.S. Capital, and glamour of large hotels and department stores. Her favorite stories are about gatherings at her mother’s family home in Manassas, VA.

Pat graduated from Trinity College and the University of Maryland with a master’s degree in guidance counseling. She was a lifelong learner and avid reader. Her education in Catholic schools exposed her to living one’s life to help those in need, especially those who cannot help themselves. Pat lived a life of selfless service to others and the church. 

She began working with injured soldiers returning from WWII at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This led to her interest in counseling and a long career in public education, first as a high school English teacher and then as a guidance counselor for special needs students. Late in her career, Pat acquired her parents’ antique business. She often chuckled; antiques were an excuse for listening to stories and counseling. 

Life’s Tapestry: Pat’s Talents, Adventures, and Family Legacy

In 1951, Pat married William. The couple had two daughters and a son. When the children were grown, Pat and Bill explored camping adventures around the US and took trips abroad. They were avid birders and campers.

A vintage photo of Mary as a bride in a white wedding gown, standing inside by a fireplace, exudes timeless elegance and romance, preserving a cherished moment.

Pat was an excellent seamstress, making everything for her home—clothes, curtains, lampshades, upholstered furniture, and braided rugs. Her rug hooking won first prize so often at the Florida State Fair that officials made her a judge. Pat is also well known for the hats she wears.

Pat was an excellent cook. She often made Sunday meals for family gatherings, setting the dining room table with a vase of fresh flowers on a starched tablecloth. Her immediate family consists of her three children and their spouses, four grandchildren and their spouses, and eight great-grandchildren.

A current photo shows Mary standing wearing a blue sweatshirt and pants. She looks comfortable and relaxed and might be up to a dance.

Sharing the life story of someone living with dementia is not just an act of preserving memories; it’s an embodiment of compassion, understanding, and respect. By embracing their past, we honor their journey and provide valuable insights into who they are beyond the constraints of their condition through HERstory. 

The Fremont Senior Living in Springfield, MO offers senior villas, independent senior apartments, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Centrally located near Cox Medical Center South with convenient access to major shopping centers, including Bill and Stewart Golf Course, Horton Smith, River Cut Golf Course, Battlefield Mall, Fantastic Caverns, Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, Wonders of Wildlife National Mueum and Aquarum, and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.

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