Many people have fond memories of going on a Hawaiian vacation at some point in their life, but to Melpa, the island truly serves as a home away from home. Though she now lives at Brookdale Valparaiso Memory Care, the 92-year-old previously spent every winter living in Honolulu for 15 years. The last time Melpa visited Hawaii, her son Mark was able to accompany her to the island for the first time to see where his mother’s true happiness resides. Melpa found joy in sharing her favorite destination with her son, taking him to all of her favorite touristy spots—they even attended their first luau together! Unfortunately, due to the effects of Vascular Dementia, Melpa has not been able to return to Hawaii in over six years. Mark remembers Melpa especially loving the dancers—she used to enjoy dancing on the weekends with her friends when she was younger and still has a passion for it.
Though Melpa has experienced some challenging times through her health decline, the tough experiences have yet to dull her outgoing, social personality. Melpa is still fairly active around the community. She enjoys many of the activities that Brookdale arranges and frequently attends the group exercise classes. She also enjoys helping with the plants and flowers at the community whenever possible and helps the staff decorate for various holidays and events. One of Melpa’s favorite events occurs every month or so—a ballroom dancing group comes to the community, while Melpa always sits in the front enjoying the music and smiling from ear to ear. Although Melpa can no longer get up and dance herself, she still loves to watch and enjoy the moment. Despite her memory deficiencies, it remains clear that Melpa still has a fond love for Hawaii and the life she had there.
Seeing Melpa light up about dancing and the memories she has from Hawaii encouraged Jennifer, her Wish donor, to explore the possibility of bringing a luau to Valparaiso. “Most of the residents are really not able to communicate well due to dementia, so I try to come up with something that would be meaningful for them or to help spark a memory from their past. This would bring a smile to her face. In my building, we strive for those moments of success,” said Jennifer. Melpa’s family and friends wanted to bring Melpa a taste of Hawaii by giving her a special day to reconnect with something dear to her heart. On April 10th, Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale brought professional hula dancers from The Barefoot Hawaiian Inc. to perform for Melpa, who enjoyed a luau celebration with her family and other Brookdale staff and residents!