A New Key For Helping Those With Dementia – Memories Of Baseball

Simply hearing others talk about a sport they love clearly triggers enjoyable memories.

Yankee Stadium. Photo by Shinya Suzuki/Flickr.

Dementia can be caused by a number of diseases, but the most common is Alzheimer’s, which affects 5.7 million people in the U.S. today.


There’s still a stigma attached to the disease, some fear that it’s contagious, while others are ashamed to admit that a friend or family member is quietly suffering. One of the most frustrating aspects of Alzheimer’s is that scientists haven’t figured out a direct cause, nor a cure.

Of course, any work toward finding a cure is incredibly important. But in the absence of one, I’ve always been struck by why, in the U.S., less attention is devoted to improving the quality of life for persons with dementia.

So a few years ago, I started to look outside of the U.S. to learn about how other countries are responding to Alzheimer’s in innovative ways. I found that sports – specifically, something called “sports reminiscence therapy” – is increasingly playing a role.

Sports reminiscence therapy falls under the umbrella of what are called “socialization programs,” in which persons with dementia gather in a group setting and participate in activities with their peers.

Most current socialization programs incorporate some form of creative expression – music, storytelling, theater, and dance – and past studies have demonstrated their effectiveness.

Because many with dementia have witnessed their usual outlets for self-expression gradually dissipate, these programs give them structured opportunities to tap into the brain’s creative network and socialize with caregivers, staff members, and peers. Art gallery viewings and drama productions were also found to be valuable activities: Those who participated were generally happier and more social.

However, because two-thirds of those who have dementia are female, many of these socialization programs have traditionally been geared towards women.

For this reason, sports reminiscence therapy is starting to gain traction as a type of socialization program that could work particularly well for men with dementia.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]Simply hearing others talk about a sport they love clearly triggers enjoyable memories; by tapping into a shared passion, the participants become more engaged, and it seems to improve their self-esteem.[/quote]

After some of his friends were diagnosed with dementia, soccer historian Michael White launched a program in Scotland called Football Memories in 2009. The program offers persons with dementia an opportunity to chat with other soccer fans in an informal and relaxed setting. Today, there are hundreds of volunteers and participants, in addition to offshoot programs that center on golf, rugby, cricket, and shinty.

The success of White’s program inspired a similar one across the Atlantic: baseball reminiscence therapy. The first launched in St. Louis in 2013; now, there are six across the country, including one implemented in early 2017 at the River House Adult Day Care Center in Cos Cob, Connecticut, where I’m currently conducting a study to assess its benefits.

At the River House, persons with dementia, caregivers, and volunteers all gather in a group setting every two weeks. They might talk about where they were when they learned that Bobby Thompson hit the “Shot Heard Round the World,” or relive Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. Sometimes they’ll watch old footage of New York Yankees, New York Mets, Brooklyn Dodgers, and New York Giants games, or listen to radio broadcasts featuring legendary broadcasters Mel Allen and Red Barber.

Simply hearing others talk about a sport they love clearly triggers enjoyable memories. By tapping into a shared passion, the participants become more engaged, and it seems to improve their self-esteem.

The activities don’t always involve watching videos or talking about the past. Sometimes they get the chance to play. Take the program from March 22, 2018. Participants showed up, sang “God Bless America” – and then learned that they would be playing Wiffle ball, (which was invented in nearby Shelton, Connecticut). They took turns reading the rules aloud from a printed handout and watched a video of people playing outdoors, before being led to a makeshift “baseball diamond” in the center’s activity room.

Staff provided bats, balls, and bases for a two-inning game. Every participant had the opportunity to hit, while volunteers served as pinch runners. Everyone took turns playing infield and outfield, and at the end of the game, the group sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

My study is still ongoing – I’m still in the process of gathering data and qualitative assessments from the caregivers.

But the laughter and smiles I witnessed during the Wiffle ball game tell me that something’s working.

Sports
via Smithfly.com

"Seventy percent of the Earth is covered with water, now you camp on it!" proudly declares Smithfly on the website for its new camping boat — the Shoal Tent.

Why have we waited so long for camping equipment that actually lets us sleep on the water? Because it's an awful idea, that's why.

"The world is your waterbed," Smithfly says on its site. But the big difference is that no one has ever had to worry about falling asleep and then drowning on their waterbed.

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While it is possible that one could wade into the water, unzip the tent, have a pleasant slumber, and wake up in the morning feeling safe and refreshed, there are countless things that could go terribly wrong.

The tent could float down the river and you wake up in the middle of nowhere.

You could have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

This guy.

It could spring a leak and you could drown while wrapped up in eight feet of heavy nylon.

A strong current could tip the tent-boat over.

There isn't any way to steer the darn thing.

This guy.

Mashable shared a charming video of the tent on Twitter and it was greeted with a chorus of people sharing the many ways one could die while staying the night in the Shoal Tent.

Oh yeah, it's expensive, too.

Even though the general public seems to think the Shoal Tent is a terrible idea, according to the Smithfly's website, it's currently sold out due to "popular demand" and it will be "available in 6-8 weeks." Oh, and did we mention it costs $1,999?

Lifestyle
via zoezimmm / Imgur

There are few more perniciously dangerous conspiracy theories being shared online than the idea that vaccines cause autism.

This has led to a decline in Americans vaccinating their children, resulting in a massive increase in measles. This year has already seen over 1,200 cases of measles, a disease that was eradicated in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

A 2015 Pew Research study found that 83% of Americans think the measles vaccine is safe, while 9% think it's not. Another 7% are not sure. But when you look at the polls that include parents of minors, the numbers get worse, 13% believe that the measles vaccine is unsafe.

There is zero truth to the idea that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a recent study of over 650,000 children found there was no link whatsoever.

RELATED: A new study of over 650,000 children finds — once again — that vaccines don't cause autism

A great example of the lack of critical thinking shown by anti-vaxxers was a recent exchange on Facebook shared to Imgur by zoezimmm.

A parent named Kenleigh at a school in New Mexico shared a photo of a sign at reads: "Children will not be enrolled unless an immunization record is presented and immunizations are up-to-date."

This angered a Facebook user who went on a senseless tirade against vaccinations.

"That's fine, I'll just homeschool my kids," she wrote. At least they won't have to worry about getting shot up in school or being bullied, or being beat up / raped by the teachers!"

To defend her anti-vaccination argument, she used a factually incorrect claim that Amish people don't vaccinate their children. She also incorrectly claimed that the MMR vaccine is ineffective and used anecdotal evidence from her and her father to claim that vaccinations are unnecessary.

She also argued that "every human in the world is entitled to their own opinion." Which is true, but doesn't mean that wildly incorrect assumptions about health should be tolerated.

She concluded her argument with a point that proves she doesn't care about facts: "It doesn't matter what you say is not going to change my mind."

RELATED: 12 medical professionals shared their most memorable anti-vaxxer stories and you won't stop face-palming

While the anti-vaxxer was incorrect in her points, it must also be pointed out that some of the people who argued with her on Facebook were rude. That should never be tolerated in this type of discourse, but unfortunately, that's the world of social media.

Here's the entire exchange:

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The post received a ton of responses on imgur. Here are just a few:

"'In my opinion...' 'I believe...' That's not how facts work."

"You're entitled to your opinion. And everyone else is entitled to call you a dumbass."

"'What I do with my children is no concern to you at all.' Most of the time, true. When your kid might give mine polio, not true."

"If my child can't bring peanut butter, your child shouldn't bring preventable diseases."

It's important to call out people who spread dangerous views, especially how they pertain to health, on social media. But people should do so with respect and civility.

Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

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Communities
via Imgur

Every few years there's something that goes mega viral because people can't decide what it is.

There was the famous "is it blue and black, or white and gold" dress?

There was the audio recording that said either "yanny" or "Laurel."

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Viral


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

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