British Man Carefully Recreates Old Home To Keep Wife From Noticing Move To Scotland: Decorator's 'Most Important Job' Helps Wife Cope With Dementia

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"It seemed like one of the most obvious things to do would be to use the skills of my trade to help,” Matt Muircroft said about the recreated apartment. jumpinjimmyjava, CC BY 2.0

A British decorator recently completed his most arduous interior design project to date. To help his wife in her battle against dementia, 75-year-old Matt Muircroft has turned their new Scotland home into an exact replica of their old apartment.

When his wife Julie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009, Matt decided to move them back to his Scottish hometown of Motherwell, Lanarkshire, where they could be close to their family. However, Julie’s dementia posed a dilemma: although her family’s support would be crucial, her condition would make the shift in environment exceedingly difficult. After some thinking, Matt devised a compromise.

“One of the things we were told initially was that big changes in surroundings can create confusion and anxiety if someone is affected by dementia,” he said, speaking to The Daily Mail. “I had a long, hard think about what I could do to make the transition as seamless as possible for Julie. It seemed like one of the most obvious things to do would be to use the skills of my trade to help.”

Although his long career includes contracts for illustrious clients like Windsor Castle and St. George’s Chapel, Matt says that their new apartment is by far his most important project. Everything from furniture and appliances to color schemes and layouts has been meticulously curated. Even the family photographs hang in exact same places.

“Recreating the interior has really helped Julie settle and without a doubt it’s been the most important job of my life,” he said. “Caring for Julie and helping her cope with the changes the condition has brought, by doing anything I can, has become my sole focus.”

Arlene Crocket of Alzheimer Scotland told reporters that recreating environments can reduce significantly the confusion and exacerbated symptoms associated with moving dementia sufferers. Retaining a degree of familiarity, she said, is of utmost importance. Even small details can have significant bearing on disease progression and intensity.

She added, “what Matt has done, by making the new flat almost identical to his last home, really is a moving example of someone going the extra-mile for a loved one.”

According to The National Institute of Health (NIH), dementia is caused by a variety of health issues, and memory loss is only one of the many ways in which the debilitating condition manifests. Other signs of dementia include impaired problem-solving abilities, failure to control emotions, and general personality changes. In certain cases, 24-hour care is the only option.

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