Recalled Memories Relieve Anxiety and Stress in Alzheimer Patients

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Recently I read an article in the St Paul Pioneer Press that excited me because it was a brilliant idea. St. Paul resident, Anne Dougherty created this non profit organization that creates custom movies, digital frames and photo albums for people with Alzheimer”s disease and other forms of dementia. It is called The Big Picture Project and I believe it will be very effective in alleviating some of the stress and anxiety that many of these people experience. Recalling old memories comes easier to them when they see a photo which rekindles the joy and love they felt at that younger period of life. It soothes the emotions and perhaps helps them to be calm and happy for a little while, anyway. It must be quite frightening to be trapped within oneself and feel frightened and alone, and if a familiar scene can bring a moment of peace it is worth more than “all the tea in China”, as has been said.

I remember when I worked in the nursing home for many years, I always thought that it would be nice to have a photo of a resident above their bed so that not only they could see it, but more so that the caregivers could see the person when they were young and able to be carefree and happy. That applies to all of the residents, because they too, are losing memory and need to reminisce the old days because it gives them pleasure and draws them out of their loneliness. It is easy for young people to forget that they, too, will someday be older and not as able to be the person that they want to be. Age and illness come to all sometime or other, and we must appreciate that inside each person, there dwells a lovely spirit created by our Creator and each has a special gift and beauty to offer during the course of their life.

It is even pleasant for us to sit down and glance through old photo albums and we are taken back to a certain place or moment in time that gives us peace. How much more pleasure it can give to a person who is slipping into that darkened shell of Alzheimer”s or other mental illnesses. Old time and favorite music is another powerful force that draws people into a world of old memories when they wore a younger person”s clothes and knew the joys of life and love.

I certainly commend Anne Dougherty and The Big Picture Project and wish them much luck as they seek to bring comfort and peace to those who have none or very little. It is always good to read news stories about the good things that people are doing to make our world a better place to live, no matter how big or small the project is, it is the miracle that good thoughts are put into action. We may not all come up with super ideas, but we can all offer smiles, kind words, comfort and love to those around us who may need it.

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