Memory Based Socialization
Dealing with the dementia Patient can be both heartbreaking and challenging. The February 2014 issue of JAMDA (Journal of American Medical Directors Association) highlights a very interesting approach toward supporting someone with dementia. The article entitled “Baseball Reminiscence League: A Model for Supporting Persons with Dementia” brings into focus groups formed around sports such as baseball and soccer. By encouraging those with various levels of dementia to join a memory club based on a shared interest, Dementia Patients can talk about their earlier memories which are often much clearer to them than recent ones. In these groups, participants share their intense interest and relate their opinions and experiences, thereby giving them the opportunity to express their feelings in a venue they rarely have in their lives anymore, a social group. Consequently, a by-product of this is a reduction in their awful feelings of isolation.
This reminiscence therapy is a wonderful way to enrich the lives of seniors with dementia. Though the data is skimpy at this point, outcomes seem to be quite positive. Respondents reported feeling more “alert and confident and less angry, anxious, and sad” (P.88) and their family caregivers confirmed this. This type of storytelling has many benefits for patient and caregiver alike. The patient gets to focus on what he or she actually does know versus their memory deficiency. Furthermore, the caregivers of dementia patients who have gone through this process have reported that it helped them have “a more positive view of the residents with a greater recognition of the patients’ previous life experiences”. This translated into more job satisfaction which surely can directly impact on the quality of caregiving.
Memory Clubs Forming
This model has been tried in different countries with various groups forming recently. In Scotland, they formed a Football (soccer to us) Reminiscence Program and in St. Louis a Cardinals Reminiscence League was formed in 2013 by the St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Groups meet twice monthly and can even include field trips, guest speakers and movie viewings on theme. Family members have ample opportunities to volunteer. Luckily, they can facilitate with minimal training.
Memory clubs have great potential for national replication across hundreds if not thousands of locales nationally. Also, they can be adapted to many different hobbies for themes. As well, web resources are available. Fortunately, this is a very low budget scheme for enriching the lives of our older generation. Of course, anything that could help improve the life of senior and their caregivers that is implementable in both day care and institutional setting is certainly well worth the effort.
David York Agency Caregivers
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