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Remembering America’s pastime

August 3, 2017
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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A researcher is engaging seniors through America’s game.

Michael Ego, professor of human development and family studies at the University of Connecticut-Stamford, is studying the effectiveness of baseball as part of reminiscence therapy for people with dementia. Ego developed the Baseball Reminiscence Program with the help of River House Adult Care Center in Cos Cob, Connecticut.

“We did have programs that were reminiscence, whether on art, current events, trips, or travel—anything that can jog some memories, get the brain going and give people and emotional response,” said Donna Spellman, executive director of River House, in a university news release. “What we have found really interesting here is that sometimes there are more women in the room than there are men. They are equally as emotional and connected to baseball as a culture.”

A group of six men and six women met every other week from April through July. They participated in memory-linked traditions, including reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “Take me out to the Ballgame,” answering baseball trivia questions and sharing their experiences and memories of baseball. For the final meeting, they traveled to Citi Field in Queens, New York, to watch the New York Mets play ball.

Anna Marie McDermott attended the day game with her husband, Mike, who goes to River House four days a week. She says her husband and has responded well to the program and has engaged with their son, who played baseball in college and briefly in the minor leagues.

“He’s awakened a little bit more,” she says of the effect of the program. “He reads the sports pages cover to cover. Any handout he reads in the session, he puts in an envelope and sends it to Dallas, where my son lives.”

Ego will conduct a formal quality of life study this fall. 

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