Some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents, including a 94-year old grandmother who has never had her photo taken with Santa, go on the shopping experience of a lifetime as part of reminiscence therapy for seniors.
It is years if not decades since some residents of Ozcare’s Ozanam Villa Burleigh Heads Aged Care Facility have stepped inside a shopping centre, but last week they went on special escort aboard ‘Santa’s Sleigh’ at Pacific Fair in a new initiative to bring back Christmas memories.
“I don’t think I have ever had a photo with Santa and I’m 94,” said Zoe, who resides at Ozcare’s Burleigh Heads facility.
“I love Christmas and the feeling of happiness. I haven’t been to a big shopping centre in decades. I grew up in England and can remember the lovely decorations in the shops there. I don’t miss how cold it was at Christmas time, but the shops were just lovely.”
Ozcare’s Diversional Therapist Michele Roche, who lead the touring seniors, including some people living with dementia, said the project to which brought back memories was a sights and sensory extravaganza.
“The importance of this type of therapy cannot be understated, and especially at this time of year, when many of those who are ageing in the community are experiencing high levels of loneliness and isolation,” Ms Roche said.
“Shopping centre visits are, for most of us, a part of our weekly schedules that we just take for granted and yet it is something that can provide so much sensory delight for people living with memory loss.
“This outing created a lot of excitement. Residents picked out their Sunday best and loved having a photo with Santa.
“Our residents are all involved in the planning process behind our community outings and they suggested that shopping was something they had not done in years if not decades.
“Keeping dementia patients actively engaged in everyday activities and cognitively challenging tasks is beneficial for both body and mind.
“Christmas is a perfect time of year to go to Pacific Fair. It is the Gold Coast’s biggest shopping centre and the spirit and sensory extravaganza of shopping will be in overdrive.
“And most importantly, it will be such a meaningful and purposeful activity for the residents. To be able to talk about their experiences and fond memories is going to be an important part of the reminisce therapy.”