Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts: Importance of Family

The following is a post written by Sydney,  one of our students in Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts. Her post shares her interest in taking the course and reflects on the importance of community and family.  We look forward to sharing more posts with you in the coming month.  ~ Anne Mondro, Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts Professor

I registered for Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts in order to gain knowledge about the complexity of memory loss. By taking this course I hoped to develop various strategies in order to effectively connect with individuals, like my grandfather, who suffers from memory loss. I did not expect this class to alter my appreciation for my family as well as to deepen relationships with my parents and grandparents. In particular, my appreciation for my family heightened after hearing our guest care partner speak about her experience caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s. She stressed the importance of a close-knit family as the base of her strong support system.

Being in college, I am unable to see my family on a daily basis. Even though I am unable to physically see my family, I still keep a constant dialogue with them. Family is the most important and stable thing I have in my life,  and I will not allow the distance between us to affect our relationship. This course has reinforced the significance that family plays in my life. With aging, the importance of family is heightened. My grandma (Nana) says family keeps her young. My grandfather (Pop-Pop) agrees. Family is the most important thing they have. In my family, there is a consensus that family is the core of happiness.

The Coffeehouse Club has been a home away from home for me. Each Thursday, as I walk into Coffeehouse, I feel a rush of emotions associated with positive family memories. The relationship I share with my Coffeehouse member is incredible. Talking with her makes me feel as though she is my grandmother. In particular, hearing simple stories from her life about travel, childhood, and secret home remedies has taught me countless life lessons. A few weeks ago, she told me about going to drive-in movie theatres with her high school boyfriend. This memory she shared was extremely special. Through the various stories, we have created a strong granddaughterly/grandma bond. Each Thursday, I leave Coffeehouse upbeat and cheerful, feeling a positive aura. In addition, as soon as I get home,  I call my grandmother in Bethesda to say hi. I feel so fortunate to be part of this amazing program, and I hope to share everything I have learned with my family.

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