The Story of Auguste Deter

Photo courtesy of DocCheck Pictures

You may wonder how American Senior Communities adopted the name Auguste’s Cottage to provide person-centered memory care.

Auguste Deter was the first person officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Born in 1850, Auguste started showing signs of dementia when she was only in her early 50s. Her loss of memory, trouble sleeping and problems with language and writing were all symptoms of dementia. However, she was very young to be displaying these symptoms.

“Our Cottage name is an homage to this good woman who began our knowledge and subsequent evolution of care practices that effectively and compassionately serve this population of elders,” said Melanie Perry, M.S., CADDCT, Director of Memory Care Support Services for American Senior Communities. “Our goal is to provide a structured, predictable and meaningful day for our residents that allows them to experience feelings of success, accomplishment and joy each day.”

Auguste was brought to the Institution for the Mentally Ill and Epileptics in Frankfurt, Germany, on November 25, 1901, after her husband could no longer care for her.  It was here that Auguste met Dr. Aloysius “Alois” Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, who discovered Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Alzheimer became fascinated with Auguste’s condition, and asked her questions similar what a doctor would ask today when screening for the disease named after him.

Much like others with dementia, Auguste confused common objects, foods and people, while identifying some objects correctly. For example, she was unable to distinguish her first name from her last, while identifying a few common objects such as a purse and diary. She also mistook lunch items, thinking her pork and cauliflower was spinach, and that the meat she was chewing was potatoes and horseradish. In the evening, her speech became garbled and she would wake up screaming in the middle of the night.

Within five years at the institution, Auguste lost almost all cognitive ability and died at the age of 55.

Upon Auguste’s passing in 1906, Dr. Alzheimer examined her brain and medical records, and found abnormalities and extensive atrophy in the cortex—the outer layer that is responsible for memory, language, judgment and thought. Previously these abnormalities were seen only in patients in their 70s.  Auguste’s condition sparked the beginning of the world’s understanding of memory loss.

American Senior Communities’ Auguste’s Cottage Memory Care Center offers a person-centered approach to memory care throughout the state of Indiana. Emphasis is placed on a resident’s remaining abilities and skills. With this approach, residents can help set the pace to their day, with activities and tasks that are intended to stimulate the mind. Some activities focus on activities they are interested in, much like a self-discovery learning model.

We focus on maintaining a home-like environment and approach that enables residents to feel a greater sense of belonging, comfort, security and independence, while respecting their rights and wishes.

Contact us today to request more information about person-centered Alzheimer’s care at ASC.

American Senior Communities Blog

Subscribe to our Blog

Blog Categories

Family Resources Categories