Museums Fight the Isolation and Pain of Dementia

An assisted-living facility in Liverpool, England, was confronted with an unusual dilemma in 2013: An elderly resident with severe dementia suddenly became terrified of water and showering — and categorically refused to bathe.

“His demeanor and his well-being started disintegrating. It became socially unacceptable,” recalled Carol Rogers, executive director for education and visitors at National Museums Liverpool, a complex of eight cultural venues that developed and now operates a dementia program. “The other older people didn’t want him in the day room. It wasn’t pleasant for them, and there was a loss of dignity for him.”