To provide more effective treatment to veterans with Alzheimer's disease (AD), the Dalian Veterans Hospital in North China’s Liaoning Province, which was established in late July 2021, has transformed some wards into "nostalgia wards" in military style according to the clinical manifestations of AD patients, to help the veterans retrieve their lost memories.
It is like a time travel while entering the themed ward where the walls are painted with murals of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, the bedside table is placed with yellowed notebook, iron portable thermos, mottled bugle and military medals, and the hanger is hooked with a whitening military coat. This ward is specially prepared for two Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) veterans with AD.
Two years ago, Wei Piting, a CPV veteran fought in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, suffered from severe memory loss and was diagnosed with AD.
However, the day Mr. Wei walked into the nostalgic ward, he became a different person. Gazing at the poster displaying the War of Resisting U.S. Aggression and Aiding Korea on the wall, he posed a solemn military salute, and then sang the Battle March of the CPV Army without missing a single word. Everyone on site was deeply touched at the moment.
Then, Mr. Wei gently touched the bugle placed by the bedside and stared at the large mural on the wall for a long time until his door of memory reopened. He took out a handkerchief from his underwear pocket. "This was given to me by the condolences group of the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea. Look, there is a dove of peace on it," he said.
Cao Fali, another CPV veteran suffering from AD, was Mr. Wei’s roommate. When he was wheeled into the ward for the first time, he just observed the room quietly. It took him a long while before he reacted to the themed decorations. He picked up the cup distributed to him when he returned from the battlefield, looked at it up and down for a while. "It was in 1953 when I returned from the war... I got this cup and a thick notebook with green cover," he said intermittently.
Although Mr. Cao's recalling of his past was partly vague, those on site were able to put together the story of a brave war hero.
"Having forgotten lots of things, some veterans tend to resume their high spirit with brighter eyes when recalling the days of fighting," introduced a medical staff of the neurology department of the hospital. Scientific research has shown that the brain tissue affected by AD carries music, memory and emotion functions. "Living in environment with nostalgic elements, their vague memories will become clear, solid and vivid," the doctor said. The auxiliary treatment with the nostalgic wards has successfully helped the two veterans recover some memories, and enabled them to take care of their basic daily life as their condition gets better now.