March 03, 2008
If you are a new subscriber, or are missing valued past articles, here's some good news. Now you can access the complete Experience! library.
The American Senior Fitness Association began publication of Experience! (initially called Round-Up) on July 5, 2005. Our concept was to provide timely information that would be of interest to older adult fitness leaders and that they could share with their fitness program participants. Since that time we have published over 60 issues featuring more than 400 articles.
At the top of this and all future issues of Experience! you'll find a link the following link:
A Variation on the "Memory Box"
The August 1, 2007, issue of Experience! described a loving project undertaken by one activity coordinator seeking to promote an environment of dignity and respect for the elderly residents in her care at a Florida retirement facility. Many had dementia or Alzheimer's disease and could no longer share the stories of their lives with staff members or visitors. She created a beautifully framed, three-dimensional display box honoring each resident and including a write-up about the individual's history, photographs from his or her past, and mementos representing his or her former work, achievements, and interests. To access an indepth article about these "memory boxes," click on "Boxes Tell the Stories of Their Lives."
SFA president Janie Clark had been so touched by the concept that it was she who'd asked Experience! editors to be sure and include the idea in the newsletter for readers with similarly affected patients or loved ones. When the Experience! piece was published, she was pleased. "I thought it was such a wonderful thing to do and was glad we could help get the word out about it. I wondered how many of our readers might have been inspired to tackle such a project for their special patients and relatives."
Then Clark got hit with a reality check. "Suddenly I realized that my mother was the perfect candidate for a memory box. I thought, Here I am recommending that everybody else get busy and create these lovely tributes to the elderly with memory loss in their lives. Why don't I take my own advice and do it for Mama?"
Out came all the old photo albums, the art supplies, and the saved letters and greeting cards. "What a massive job it was," Clark says. "But well worth it!" Her 12-year-old son Will helped out by using the computer to download pictures of the hummingbirds his grandmother always loved and the African violets she raised.
"I came up with my own version of a memory box," Clark says. "Instead of a deep shadow box, I used a larger flat frame. Also, instead of writing a detailed biography, we settled on short captions to summarize Mama's rich, vibrant, and giving background. This allowed us to fit in more photos and mainly let the pictures tell her story. To promote cheerfulness, we used a bright yellow background, a blond frame, and lots of happy family photos. I call it Mama's memory collage."
Indeed, Clark's mother does take pleasure in the new work of art recently displayed for all her visitors to see. "She doesn't remember when the photos were taken or even many of the people so near-and-dear to her who are pictured in them," Clark says. "But she is aware that it somehow has to do with her being very special -- and also greatly loved."
Clark adds, "I like it that the people at my mother's assisted living who work so hard every day to care for her -- changing bed linens; helping her dress; providing meals, activities, and health care -- now know more about what an extraordinary person she is, even though she can't tell them. Of course, they already knew that she is a cherished mother and grandmother, but now they also know that she has been a college tennis star, a successful career woman, a church and community leader, and someone who brought exceptional beauty into her family's lives through her love of flowers, birds, books, and keeping a lovely home for them out on their large cattle farm in the country."
Clark was asked if she has any advice for others who may be thinking of launching their own memory box projects. "Do it your own way," she says. "Don't worry about perfection. Get all the help you can -- from kids, brothers, sisters, others. This can be such a rewarding experience for literally everyone involved. Just be careful not to wait too long to get started. I'm so glad we acted when we did!"
Retirements Are Postponed Indefinitely
Depression in the Elderly
Very Much in the Picture
All the Time
Experience! readers: Thank
you for your interest and questions. Due to the high volume of contacts SFA
receives, we cannot respond to individual queries or comments. However, the
newsletter does address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest
to our members.
American Senior Fitness Association | 1945 W Park Ave | Edgewater, FL 32132
Address mail to P.O. Box 2575, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170
(888) 689-6791 | (386) 957-1947