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Connecting with people is worth the effort

Senior moments

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POSTED: March 11, 2014 11:00 a.m.

I love to look at photographs and pictures. Just about any picture will do.
I always have been a fan of big picture books and magazines that have lots of pictures — the more, the better. From this knowledge alone, you can deduce that
I never was an avid reader of novels. I know you are supposed to paint a picture in your mind as you read, but for me, a picture truly is worth a thousand words.
We have lots of photos, pictures and paintings in our house. Most are of, or painted by, our children, family members and friends. My favorite pictures are those that remind me of special moments, trips and events in my life. When I travel to see my relatives, even during a casual visit with my mom, I always take time to look at the many pictures displayed throughout their homes.
My work with people who are dealing with age-related diseases has opened my eyes to the power of pictures. One of the recommended methods for reconnecting with family members and loved ones experiencing memory loss or going through the early stages of Alzheimer’s is through old photographs, pictures and even picture-taking.
There’s a wealth of history in an old photo or picture.  The conversation that can be aroused is amazing. Taking a picture (even if you are pretending) can evoke a smile that one may rarely display anymore. Again, it’s all about reconnecting with your loved one.
Music is another medium that can be used to make a connection. Listening to old songs or, better yet, singing them together can light up a room.
Trust me, I’ve seen it. I was singing with a group of people who had Alzheimer’s, and I started to sing the song “My Country ’Tis of Thee.” Not only did everyone sing, but one person began to stand. One by one, many of the people who could rise to their feet did so. I was almost in tears by the end of the song.
My mom used to be an antique dealer and tin collector. When I was a boy, she would take me with her to the local flea market to sell her wares. This was where I learned the art of bartering. Mom could barter with the best of them. More important, however, is what I now know. There’s a story behind each one of those tins.
Once, I opened up a tin and found old valentines from the 1940s tucked in it. Mom and I had a great time talking about them. She still has many of her tins on display in her apartment.
Familiar smells of cookies baking in the oven and favorite perfumes also are great ways to spark a connection. Old books and family Bibles have special meaning and value for reconnecting as well. Mom has an old family Bible, and inside it are special pictures, writings and even a lock of strawberry-red hair with a ribbon tied around it. Mom said it is the same color as my hair was when I was little. As far as Mom can remember, it belonged to my great-grandmother, Sarah Martha Puckett, born in 1841.  
Oh, the glow on her face when she looks at that lock of hair … it’s a connection I’ll never forget.

DeLong is the executive director of the Suites at Station Exchange. Call him at 912-531-7867 or go to www.thesuitesatstationexchange.com.

 

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