Baseball Brings Joy for People With Dementia

By Erin Harris | Posted on 05.19.2014 | 0 comments

“I watched these guys who clearly have dementia pull up memories from decades ago. It’s just heartening,” Marla Berg-Weger tells Provider in “‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ Takes Residents Out of Shell.”

Berg-Weger, professor of social work at St. Louis University, is the program coordinator for the Cardinals Reminiscence League, a group that encourages people with dementia to share stories, photos, and mementos about something they were always passionate about: baseball.

The group helps spark memories for residents at a care home and several VA centers in and around St. Louis. And its concept—connecting people who have similar interests—can be used to form other kinds of leagues centered on topics like a favorite book, movie, hero, song, instrument, or anything.

Groups that gather to chat about favorite pursuits and meaningful interests are especially beneficial for people in the early stage of dementia because they help people stay stimulated socially and maintain their ability to express their individuality. Reminiscence groups are also helpful for people in the mid stage of dementia because they inspire people to communicate with short phrases about memories that stir them.

And reminiscing is essential for people at all stages of dementia. One of the most important things we teach in our memory care training programs is that every person who has dementia—even someone at the end stage of Alzheimer’s disease—has abilities. While a person in the late stages of dementia may not be able to tell stories with words, they still have the ability to communicate volumes. Watch the video below to see how reminiscing about baseball awakened a man in end-stage dementia when his caregivers thought he was unreachable.

How do you help people at different stages of Alzheimer’s share memories and feel and express love and other emotions?


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