ST. JOHN’S–Clients of St. Martin’s Home were treated to a special presentation by guests visiting the island on Thursday. Dementia advocates Ron Zoglin and Deborah Shouse from Kansas City, Missouri, visited the home to share fun activities, song, and dance with their audience.
Zoglin and Shouse engaged their audience through music, song and laughter. Shouse started the programme by asking the audience to think about one of their favourite songs that reminded them of their family. One audience member shared that her song of choice was “Across the Bridge” by Jim Reeves, as this song was a favourite of her father.
Those in attendance were also encouraged to sing commonly-known songs together. In no time the room filled with the sounds of songs like “Mama, make a Johnny cake”, “Old MacDonald” and “The Twist”. Laughter and smiles soon followed as many revelled in the singing.
Shouse also spoke about the importance of laughter. She again turned to the crowd and asked persons to share what makes them smile and the memories that lie behind their reason for smiling. Again, many persons were eager to share their favourite memories with her.
She later talked about laughter yoga, which is an exercise involving prolonged voluntary laughter. The audience joined her in exercises that got everyone involved and laughing. One exercise involved cooking a stew. Audience members each provided an ingredient to add to the stew, and with each added ingredient everyone was encouraged to laugh in delight as they were all creating a delicious meal.
Zoglin and Shouse are former care partners who travel frequently providing workshops and seminars for Alzheimer and dementia patients. Shouse said, “We have a passion for bringing people together and connecting through creative and artistic ways.” The pair shares a love for connecting with different cultures and those living with dementia.
They reached out to Alzheimer Disease International seeking organisations in the Caribbean region they could contact. On discovering the St. Maarten Alzheimer Foundation, which is registered with Alzheimer Disease International, they made contact in hopes of working together.
This was several years ago and since then the couple has been to the island three times providing their interactive workshops, as the foundation’s work has left a lasting impression on them. St. Maarten Alzheimer Foundation Secretary Raymond Jesserun has worked with the couple from their first trip.
“When we met Raymond we instantly admired him and have been honoured to work with him these three times,” Shouse said.
Jesserun, who was too far away during the workshops, jumped in every so often to engage the crowd in the singing and dancing exercises. His high energy resonated with the audience. He had many clapping and cheering along to his performance of the “Twist”.
When asked about the importance of holding such workshops he said, “We all have creative energy and oftentimes people who are living with dementia are more open to creativity and the arts and that’s a wonderful way to stay connected. We didn’t speak about Alzheimer’s; we didn’t speak about dementia; everyone that was here didn’t even know that it was the Alzheimer Foundation that brought [Shouse and Zoglin –Ed.] here. Keeping people happy, helping to make living with a challenge still a joy, that’s what we can still do.”
St. Maarten Alzheimer Foundation can be contacted via its hotline 9220.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.facebook.com/heraldsxm/photos/a.1251060041587810/3386121584748301/?type=3&theater