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Carol Bradley Bursack, Published August 03 2008

Web site offers items that can stir memories

Dear Readers: My sister was told by a colleague that this woman’s mother, who was viewing “The Lawrence Welk Show” on public television, has mentioned something to the effect that “Lawrence Welk looks wonderful. He just doesn’t age!” While most of us know that Welk died in 1992, we also know that his music lives on.

When my parents were alive, I was always happy on the nights the show would air, as I knew they would be content to watch the show together, when they were in their apartment, and later when they were in the nursing home, so I didn’t have to worry about how they were doing for that span of time.

My dad adored big-band music, so we kept a CD player in his room, well supplied with CDs from the era of Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra. He also owned every CD available featuring Lawrence Welk. But I often struggled to find other things that would entertain my folks, especially Dad, whose brain surgery had rendered him incapable of discerning between television and reality. Television could be his worst enemy, especially the news programs.

Cable TV options have grown, and DVDs have become standard. However, finding content that is enjoyable and appropriate for elders can still be a challenge. This is where the online Alzheimer’s Store comes in.

Found at www.alzstore.com this amazing resource has an abundance of practical aids for aging eyes, ears and minds. The store offers DVDs with old radio and TV shows most elders enjoyed years ago, and still would love. They also have CDs with music that can help elders gracefully slide back into their own fond memories.

One doesn’t need to have dementia to find interesting things at the Alzheimer’s Store – just a fondness for the entertainment of years past.

I always brought my mother the catalogues that cluttered my mailbox at home. I can’t help but think how much more she would have enjoyed the replica of a 1950s Sears catalog now available through the Alzheimer’s Store. The fashions of the day and the prices for products would have delighted her.

The entertainment section on the site also has a DVD titled “Our Stories,” which features people’s tales of the 1940s. There is an abundance of spiritual material, as well as comedies such as “The Best of George Burns.”

Yes, this site offers many products to help lead exercise groups, advice to stimulate activity, education for caregivers and professionals and products like their memory phone, which allows you to place photos on large buttons programmed to certain phone numbers.

There is much to offer at the Alzheimer’s Store. But to me, the real treasures are the products that can coax a smile from a depressed elder who has become sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Music, comedy and memory-stirring documentaries can do just that. They can temporarily take the elder back to a healthier time in his or her life, or just plain give elders a chance to reminisce.

Bursack is the author of a support book on family elder care. To submit questions to “Minding Our Elders”

and view past columns, go to www.inforum.com and click on columnists. Readers can reach Bursack at cbursack@forumcomm.com or write her at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.