Nostalgic Sights and Sounds

by Lois Etienne on July 25, 2011

in Alzheimer's and Dementia,History,Senior Health and Safety

I was sitting at a Mariner’s baseball game one day several years ago and one of their noisy trains came by. As the whistle blew, I felt a warm, fuzzy nostalgia come over me and I had to think really hard why that was. When I was a child, my father was in the military, so when we came back to Ohio to visit grandparents, we would end up staying at their house. My father’s mom and dad lived about 75 yards from a railroad and I would fall asleep listening to the train whistle into town and then the rocking of the tracks as the long trains would roll by, putting me to sleep! It was such a powerful memory that when I was looking for my next house, I told the realtor that I wanted to have train tracks close to my house (not something they often hear). As I’ve thought over the years about sights, smells and sounds that can instantly take me back to a younger, gentler time, I wonder how we could discover what those things are for the seniors in our lives and make things seem more “right with the world.”

This is especially true for folks who are dealing with memory loss. So many things seem foreign to them on a daily basis so they are able to relax in their surroundings more if those surroundings are familiar. Music is a mood changer for most of us but it can be especially soothing when the songs are helping you relate to an earlier pleasant time in your life. So the place to begin is to talk to that senior in your life about the things they like or don’t like, discover a few of their favorite things.  Maybe it is music, maybe flowers or cookies or maybe even train whistles. Ask a senior in your life!

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