By Art Holliday
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - When a group of St. Louis Cardinals fans get together, the conversation is easy because they have shared memories. That's the idea behind the Cardinals Reminiscence League: sharing memories to preserve memories.
Just like a baseball game, the Cardinals Reminiscence League begins with the national anthem. A difficult song is even more of a challenge for people with Alzheimer's; not everyone remembers the words. Twice a month at the Alzheimer's Association office, the Cardinals Reminiscence League meets. The participants have two things in common: love of Cardinals baseball and early stage Alzheimer's disease. The program is inspired by a dementia support group in Scotland. Reminiscence therapy has several benefits. It improves memory and mood. It improves communication. And it gives the league participants a purpose, gathering every other week to talk about baseball memories.
Jim Muskopf is a regular at the twice monthly meetings.
"I have to be active. My lifestyle is been that way so many years," he said.
The 69-year-old Muskopf was the director of graduate studies at Fontbonne University until retiring in 2011. He and his wife Ruth realized things were not right. It wasn't a total surprise that Muskopf has Alzheimer's because his mother had it.
"He knows he's got the disease," said Ruth Muskopf about her husband. "And he knows from his experience with his mother what's possible down the road. But being here and sharing with the other people it's like everybody's normal. They're all talking and doing the same thing and you forget about the Alzheimer's."
Dr. John Morley is the director of geriatrics at St. Louis University. He was inspired by dementia support group in Scotland when he helped create the Cardinals Reminiscence League.
"It really is a very good way to trigger remembering and get people talking about something that they can all mutually remember," said Morley. "In St. Louis, the Cardinals belong to everyone. It makes people happy, not only the participants, but the caregivers, who get to see a loved one really excited about something."
To participate or volunteer for the Cardinals Reminiscence League visit www.alz.org/stl.