Located at Riverdale in the Bronx, the healthcare workers at the Hebrew Home assisted living care facility are using baseball as a way to help the residents suffering from Alzheimer’s and other memory issues. Coinciding with the exhibition of Yankee’s memorabilia at the Hebrew Home that opened on Father’s Day, therapists are using baseball to help residents recall long-forgotten good memories.
Baseball is still considered one of the best and favorite pastimes of residents at the Hebrew Home, and the residents’ connection to the sport is what spawned the idea to use it as a therapy tool. The Home is integrating baseball into many of its programs and activities such as art therapy and poetry workshops throughout the rest of baseball season. In art class, residents are encouraged to make their own baseball cards. In poetry, residents recall their favorite memories about baseball and use their experiences to craft their own poems.
Residents at the Hebrew Home have responded well to the integration of baseball into the programs. Therapists have seen residents with Alzheimer’s and other memory problems recalling memories from decades ago about their favorite baseball experiences. One resident remembered going to games with her children after her husband passed away as a way of bringing the family closer together. Other residents still remember the statistics for some of the most famous Yankee players like DiMaggio. One resident still remembers going to his first Yankee’s game in fifth grade.
In addition to integrating baseball into therapy programs, the Hebrew Home also opened the Yankee’s memorabilia exhibit. With over two dozen different pieces of Yankee’s memorabilia on display for the seniors the permanent exhibit opened on Father’s Day this year. Former Yankee Ron Blomberg even made an appearance to commemorate the opening of the exhibit. Pieces in the exhibit include part of a dugout, baseball bats used by Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter, and even a diary entry from Joe DiMaggio.
This is not the first time that baseball has been used to help seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s and other memory issues. The Saint Louis Cardinals teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Association, Saint Louis University, and the Saint Louis V.A. to create the Cardinals Reminiscence League. Families with senior members who suffer from Alzheimer’s meet twice monthly to discuss baseball, tour the stadium, and even hold artifacts from the Cardinal’s Hall of Fame. The Reminiscence League has been helping seniors with memory problems by recalling fond memories about baseball and the Cardinals team. Some members have recalled sneaking into playoff games at the stadium, collecting cards and other memorabilia from the team, and simply remember the joy of playing baseball themselves.