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March 8, 2024

HERstory: Honoring the Journey of Individuals Living with Dementia

Category: Memory Care

Author: Jennifer Waibel, 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 Westbury 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.

Margie R. was born in Brunswick, MO, where generations of her family had lived. During the Depression, her family moved to several towns in Missouri while her father worked as a cook. They settled back in Brunswick permanently when Margie was in junior high.

When Margie was 14, she met Kenny, who was 16. A few years later, they married in 1946, soon after Kenny returned from World War II. They were united for almost 70 years, sweethearts and best friends.

A past moment in time when Margie and Kenny were sitting on a couch.

While raising four children, Margie also devoted herself to improving the lives of others. Her community service included years as a 4-H leader, PTA officer, schoolroom mother, and election judge. Whenever she saw a project that needed to be done, she simply did it.

Margie’s dedication to Brunswick’s community is unparalleled. She spearheaded the successful campaign to pass the bond issue for a new school and rallied support for the construction of an outdoor basketball court. As chair of the Sesquicentennial Committee, she orchestrated a memorable celebration and parade marking Brunswick’s milestone anniversary. Demonstrating her ingenuity, Margie arranged for the Missouri River Queen to dock in Brunswick, offering cruises reminiscent of the area’s steamboat history, with all local schoolchildren participating in the festivities.

Margie’s Legacy: Family Gatherings, Passion for History, and the Art of Hats

Family holds a special place in Margie’s heart, evident in her tradition of hosting Sunday dinners and inclusive Thanksgiving gatherings. Christmas, a cherished affair at her historic home, Locust Hill, includes an overnight stay on Christmas Eve. With four children, ten grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren, Margie’s love extends across generations.

An older woman, Margie, cradles a baby doll with a tender smile.

Margie’s thirst for knowledge is insatiable, particularly in history and antiques, with a penchant for hats. Renowned as the “Hat Lady,” she frequently delivers engaging programs on the subject, earning her numerous accolades, including Missouri Mother of the Year. Her lifelong commitment to education, both formal and self-directed, is a testament to her unwavering passion for learning and sharing knowledge.

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 Westbury Senior Living in Columbia, MO offers 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 University Hospital and Boone Hospital with convenient access to major shopping centers and attractions, including Mizzou Tigers, Columbia Mall, The Broadway Shops, MKT Nature and Fitness Trail, Finger Lake State Park, and LA Nickell Golf Course.

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