March Madness and Stan Musial

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posted by Ted Ryan on March 20, 2013

March Madness is here and sports fans are gathering with friends and family to enjoy the excitement. Although few people are aware, bonding over sports can be quite beneficial for senior fans – even those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

England’s Sporting Memories Network is exploring the positive effects of “sports reminiscence” in the elderly and establishing that sports can unlock memory.

The effort is the brainchild of Michael White, historian for a Scottish football club. After being asked to speak at area nursing homes, White began bringing photographs to share with small groups of elderly men. The results were incredible.

The men became animated, recalling memories from younger years – players they watched, people they watched games with, what they ate, pubs where they drank, even fights they’d had.

Though the Sporting Memories Network focuses on sports that aren’t likely to interest folks on this side of the pond, I have confidence in St. Louis’ own sports heritage. Perhaps the recent outpouring of affection and media footage of Stan Musial will trigger a few memories.

Reminiscence therapy is the process of recalling personal experiences from one’s past. It can be especially beneficial for elderly people with Alzheimer’s and dementia because long-term memory is the last to go.

Benefits of reminiscence therapy include:

  • Increased confidence about socializing and using verbal skills
  • Reducing reclusive tendencies that cause depression and anxiety
  • Promote interest in past hobbies and recreations
  • Increased self-worth and sense of achievement
  • Reduced apathy and confusion

Reminiscence therapy can use a wide variety of topics. As participants of this program have seen, sports – and the passion and pleasure it brings to lives – is certainly one of them.

Maybe your grandpa played college hoops in his heyday. Somewhere a grandson is waiting to hear about the Monday Night Miracle firsthand. My grandparents were my age during the 1944 Cardinals World Series, I wonder if it was like 2011. We had a football team before the Rams?

Try watching a game and reminiscing with your loved ones. You may have a starting point in mind. You may learn something new. I’ll bet you’ll enjoy hearing all about it as much as they’ll enjoy (and benefit) from telling you.

Seniors Home Care sees the benefits of reminiscence therapy through many avenues, such as watching (or listening to) Cards games or flipping through old photo albums. Feel free to leave a comment of memories or topics that you have used. It just might click with someone else.

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