“…they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
– Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) in Field of Dreams
Spring is here, and with it, America’s pastime is in full swing. The relationship between baseball and the elderly is one of love.
As the quote above from Field of Dreams so eloquently states, baseball serves as a beautiful constant over the years. Our priorities and values constantly shift over time, but baseball remains a true constant.
While an argument can be made that football has surpassed baseball as America’s pastime, for many, baseball still holds a special place in the heart. According to this New York Times article, MLB attendance is still high. While many younger Americans thirst for a faster-paced game, the leisure of baseball still has its place. The lack of a clock may hold a certain appeal for older fans.
For those Baby Boomers who grew up watching Bob Gibson brush hitters away from the plate, or beamed with excitement when Hank Aaron came up to bat, the game still holds a special meaning. Many grew up playing pickup games in the sandlots and open fields of the neighborhood – and the game now serves as a vessel to bring back memories of youth.
If your loved one is a baseball fan suffering from dementia, you could take a page from a treatment that is practiced in other cultures, called sports reminiscence therapy. This is where people with dementia gather to discuss their favorite memories related to sports. The results suggest that getting together with your loved one to talk about their favorite baseball memories can be extremely beneficial.
Alzheimer’s impacts 5.7 million people in the U.S. today. In the absence of a cure, talking baseball can help improve the quality of life of a loved one who cherishes the game, but suffers from dementia. Simply hearing others talk about the sport they love can revive cherished memories and create passion and engagement.
Baseball and the elderly form a tight-knit relationship – ne where their favorite Chicago sports teams have seen recent successes. The teams work to create new memories for fans of all ages. Will the White Sox see recent rebuilding efforts come to fruition? Will the Cubs be able to create a dynasty based on the efforts of Theo Epstein? Batter up.