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Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

Dementia Café: Connecting through Donuts and Baseball

 

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I’ve always enjoyed gatherings of creative people, so I was excited when I learned that Mandy Shoemaker was orchestrating a Dementia Café in our area. The premise is simple and fun: a group of people living with dementia, their care partners, and friends get together in a public space for a facilitated time of conversation, sharing, and creativity.

Mandy’s café took place in Lamar’s, a locally esteemed donut shop with a quiet atmosphere and a spacious seating area.  Eight of us gathered around a table and Mandy opened the conversation by showing us a black and white photo of a baseball player laying on a field, next to a fence, apparently knocked out.

“Babe Ruth,” she told us. “He was running backwards to catch a ball and crashed into the barrier.”

We all nodded in sympathy, then began sharing baseball stories. Charlie had played in his youth and he and his wife Barb were ardent Royals fans. Courtney had played softball in high school. Fran, who grew up in the 1930’s in rural Mississippi, never had a chance to play sports but she liked hearing about the game.

“Did you ever listen to baseball on the radio?” Mandy asked her.

“In those days, not everyone had everything,” Fran said. “I don’t think we even had a radio.”

Barb remembered being on her grandparent’s farm, huddled around the radio, listening to the Yankee’s games.

“Have you ever heard the poem Casey at the Bat?” Mandy asked.

“I memorized it at school,” Charlie said.

119AC655-C2E7-4B6C-A043-39E96D861200We took turns reading the dramatic poem, discussing such vivid terms as “when the dust had lifted” and  “Casey lightly doffed his hat,” and one ball player was a “lulu” while another was “a cake.” The tension built and we chanted the last verse together. (Seek out this poem if you want to know what happened in Mudville that day: www.baseball-almanac.com/poetry/po_case.shtml )

We then created a group poem, each contributing an answer to “Baseball is…”

I left the café feeling exhilarated and connected. Baseball was a catalyst for a great conversation that included life in the 1930s, family origins, Memphis, Elvis, baseball cards, Abbott and Costello, poetry, women and sports, fathers, hard work, radio programs, and more.

“It is our goal to create a more dementia-friendly community,” Mandy says. “Part of that is creating safe places for people with dementia to come and be a part of a group, with no expectations.  The café invites people to just get out, be creative, and have fun.”

The KC Memory Café will meet on the second Tuesday of each month. To keep up to date, follow our facebook page at www.facebook.com/KCMemoryCafe

 

Create Your Own Cafe

You can also create your own café for two or more. Here are a few tips:

Select a public meeting place that serves refreshments and is reasonably quiet.

Let go of expectations and create a supportive atmosphere. You are here to express yourselves and connect.

Pick a broad topic that you are both interested in. Examples include seasons, sports, nature, games.

Start with a visual stimulation, such as a photo. Ask open-ended questions that invite imagination, such as “What do you see in this picture?” or “What do you think is going on?”

Allow the conversation to flow. The topic is a mere catalyst for ideas and communication.

Print out a familiar poem to read together. Enjoy the drama of reading aloud and invite comments on the poem.

For more about starting a café, visit

http://www.alzheimerscafe.com/public.html.alzheimersatoz.com/Welcome.html

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey. 

COMING SOON: CONNECTING IN THE LAND OF DEMENTIA: CREATIVE ACTIVITIES TO EXPLORE TOGETHER

 

Singing Along, Singing Our Song and Making a Difference

“What’s the score?”

Thet was the question on all of our minds Wedsnesday evening October 15 as the KC Royals played the fourth playoff game with the Baltimore Orioles. For months, we’d been scheduled to present an Alzheimer’s program at this church, A Music Lesson in the Art of Love, with singer Cynthia Schroer and guitarist Rod Fleeman. But our baseball team’s wild, wonderful, and unexpected success was taking precedence that evening.

The preacher looked at his cell phone.

“The score is 2-1 KC in the bottom of the ninth,” the preacher said.”We are two outs away from being in the World Series.”

All 20 of us crowded closer and the preacher gave us a play-by-play of the proceedings. When the Royals won, we all cheered and applauded and Rod led us in a rousing version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

After our jubilation abated, we settled in to do our program, a combination of songs and stories that focused on the gifts and blessings in the caregiver’s journey.

Cynthia and Rod are remarkable musicians and I wanted to share one of their songs with you. Click here to listen.

I also wanted to share an article about three people who are really making a difference using music. This article from Unity Magazine features the inspiring stories of Dan Cohen from Music and Memory, Janalea Hoffman from Rhythmic Medicine, and Richard Mekdici from Posi Music.  Click here to tune into it. 

Here’s to singing along, singing our song, and making a difference.IMG_2232

 

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.