TOLEDO, OHꟷOct. 20, 2021ꟷWhen Vern Fuller, former second baseman for the then Cleveland Indians, started talking and reminiscing with a group of people living with Alzheimer’s, Joe Shaw thought maybe that wasn’t a good idea because the group was so quiet.
But Shaw then learned that the group was quiet because they were in awe that they got to interact with a former major league ballplayer.
“It is just a natural connection to try to use the love of baseball to create those quality experiences,” said Shaw, who is president of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) Jack Graney Chapter. “We enjoy putting these sessions together listening to them. We take (the conversation) where ever they take it so it is enjoyable for them,” Shaw said.
Participants in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Baseball Memories Program get to talk baseball from the humorous to the serious all with a goal of recalling great memories for an entertaining experience. The Association works with the baseball research organization and Shaw says they work with the Cleveland Guardians as a partner.
The virtual programs, which are free, are for individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. They are encouraged to attend with an adult family member or friend. Participants also get baseball goodies like bobbleheads and t-shirts.
The Baseball Memories sessions occur the last Tuesday of each month from 2-3 p.m. Pre-registration is required. To register, individuals should contact Polly Mytinger, Education Program Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association, at [email protected]. After registration, a Zoom link will be provided.
Shaw, whose mother was a big baseball fan who died from Alzheimer’s disease in 2000, said he wished sports reminiscence programs were available then. The Society of American Baseball Research, whose members love baseball, currently conducts these programs around the country. “We believe in this and feel very good about giving back,” Shaw said.
Mytinger said the program is a great social engagement tool that helps those with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers to actually have fun together. Alzheimer’s is a progressive, fatal brain disease that kills nerve cells and tissues in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, plan, speak, walk. In the United States, more than 6 million people have the disease. Individuals who have questions about living with Alzheimer’s can call the Association’s 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900 or the Alzheimer’s Association Northwest Ohio Chapter at 419-537-1999.
About the Alzheimer’s Association®
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s®. Visit www.alz.org or call our 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.