When the memories fade

written by OM International

People with dementia can struggle to hold on to their most recent memories, but the staff at the Kas Hugenholz home for elderly people in Willemstad are determined to make the most of the lives the men and women suffering from the condition are still able to live. A team of seven female volunteers from Logos Hope is going to the specialised care home every day for two weeks while the ship is in dry dock to paint the ten rooms where the 68 residents sleep.

“We would like to move to a new facility, but things move slowly on the island, and the whole process may take years,” said the centre’s director, Henriette Thoonen. “This building is very old, but we are making the most of it, which is why [they] are here to help paint.”

Each morning five ladies pick up the rollers and paintbrushes while the other volunteers pair off with staff members to care for the men and women. The day begins with breakfast, and the two crewmembers deliver specially-prepared meals to each resident before sitting down at their tables to talk to them while they eat.

The ship team has started to build relationships with several people, including Irene, who has a sense of humour and bursts into song each morning after greeting the ladies with a big smile. Irene loves to talk about her relationship with God, and as she slowly made her way across the courtyard to attend church one day, steadying herself with a volunteer on each arm, she told them, “If you have God, you have all,” and reminded them to be patient and trust in His timing.

There is joy and life in the centre as nurses, maintenance workers and other staff members tickle, tease and hug the residents, encourage them to attend daily social activities and push them to maintain independence by doing the things they are still physically able to for themselves.

Logos Hope's volunteers are enjoying bringing their own light to the community as they brighten up the rooms and put smiles on the faces of the people they encounter. Pamela Mua (Papua New Guinea) has bonded so well with two of the residents that they declared they have adopted her as their honorary granddaughter!