Treating dementia with memories of Cardinals baseball

8:19 AM, Aug 9, 2011   |    comments
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By Heidi Glaus

St. Louis (KSDK) -- Busch Stadium has played host to plenty of special people, but on this particular morning, the guests of honor are a group of veterans, many of whom remember watching a game at Sportsman's Park.

"In the early days down there they would throw baseballs to the fans," explains one veteran.

The thing is, these men don't always remember what happened yesterday.

"When you start mentally struggling what tends to happen is you don't want to go out, you don't want to socialize," explains Dr. John Morely, a Saint Louis University Geriatrician.

So Dr. Morely, the VA hospital, the Alzheimer's Association and the Cardinals have teamed up to spark some old memories.

"So literally they put the picture in front of them and just try to start the discussion and the real benefit to the veterans that are involved here is discussing," adds Brian Finch with the Cardinals.

"I understand some of you have some good memories here about this particular team," Finch says pulling out a picture of the gas house gang.

"Medwick got pulled out of the 1934 World Series. They were throwing tomatoes and everything at him," says one of the veterans.

But this is more than recalling memories.

"A big piece of this is the socialization, bringing a big group of people together where they can talk to other people and not feel embarrassed about not being able to remember things," explains Dr. Morely.

And after only a few minutes with the group you can see it works whether they're talking about Stan the Man...

"He never missed a ball and it seemed like he hit every time he got up, but I know he didn't," says one veteran.

or Lou Brock.

"He gave me a box of balls that he signed that I could give to the kids in the neighborhood, he was a great man," he goes on to say.

"It takes a little while and each week is a new experience. Sometimes you come back thinking well, everybody was doing so well and then it's two weeks later and there's not necessarily a memory of where you where the last time, so it's a struggle each time, but it's a very positive ending to each of the hour long sessions," adds Dr. Morely.

The hope is this is something other major league teams will recognize and maybe duplicate.



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