Alzheimer’s Patients Take Trip Down Memory Lane

Posted by on July 22, 2011

Familiar objects, conversation trigger nursing home residents’ recollections

Global Citizenship students at Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud helped stimulate the memories of Alzheimer’s patients at The Good Shepherd Community senior living facility through conversation and activities.

“This class is a great introduction to the hybrid mix between academia and the workplace,” said instructor Kellie Clemmer. “The students learned the value of what a small group can accomplish. They each learned how to use their natural gifts.”

After studying symptoms of the brain disorder, students created “remembrance boxes” containing familiar objects related to fishing, weddings or childhood toys to engage the residents. Others used familiar objects, including a Nerf gun and hunting dog, to help draw out stories and conversation despite the patients’ limited memory capabilities.

According to a 2010 report,* Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and is the seventh leading cause of death. More than five million Americans are affected, and the disease costs $172 billion annually.

While the students gained a deeper appreciation of the disease and its effects, they also brought joy to the residents.

“Our partnership with Minnesota School of Business has been invaluable,” said Jenny Zimmer of The Good Shepherd Community. “We get to see firsthand the benefits that the service-learning projects provide and how they enrich the lives of those we serve. The friendships, activities and events that make these intergenerational programs a success bring smiles, laughter and learning to The Good Shepherd Community.”

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