Making Up in Humor What They Lack in Fashion


The theme of this week’s Reminiscence group, held at AgeSong's Laguna Grove assisted living community, was fashion, a subject dear to my heart since I used to own a retail fashion business.  The group was facilitated by Vincent  Sienkiewicz and Randy Silva, two gero-wellness intern counselors, who made up in humor what they lacked in fashion knowledge.  “I’m a blue jeans type of guy,” admitted Randy. He continued, “Jeans came into fashion in 1873, and were especially designed for cowboys.”

Out of his big black bag, Randy pulled hats. “We used to wear hats to church,” Ruth  recalled, “All kinds of hats.”  Vincent held up an ornated hand mirror for RoseThe subject turned to gloves.  “These are too small for me,” admitted Ruth, when  Vincent offered her some gloves to try one. She continued, “I like the way they flare out at the wrists – very ‘20s.”

Next Vincent pulled a out bell.  “Dinnertime,” Jud said, “The cows are ready to come home.  Bring on the animals.  I’m not cowed by the cows.” They massage the cows in Japan, “ claimed Vincent.  “Ive never see cows massaged,” some one said.  Another member of the group claimed, “I once was chased by a bull.”

Next out of the bag came handkerchiefs.  “They were called pocked squares when worn by men,” Vincent noted, “They stuffed them right into their top jacket pocket.  “It looks more like a napkin,” said Jean.

Randy pointed to his tie.  “I’ve been wearing this tie for the past 20 years. He continued, “That’s a funny thing about fashion – things eventually come back.” The elders, especially the ladies, appeared to know more about fashion than did Vincent and Randy.  Some had worked in the retail fashion business.  However, at this point in their lives, is seems that sharing stories is more important than what’s in and what’s not.

Later Vincent described to me the  kinds of activities introduced to the Reminiscence group, "We brought in a homemaking kit, filled with antique kitchen and houseware applicances.  We also brought in sports equipment travel picture books to stimulate discussion with members of the community – where they’ve been and where they’d like to go. Reminiscence can become a way to help people cope with change, to adapt to a present unlike one’s past.”  He continued:

“Even if they never traveled, they can travel in their inner world  by sharing with other members of the group places they’d like to visit. Sometimes we show movies and talk about certain themes or characters.  Other times we just discuss movies or tv shows they are familiar with.  Jud taught me how to work a record player so we could play records. We have a large collection of records and a record player in the Hayes Valley community across the street, where I also facilitate a Reminiscence group.”

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--AgeSong Assisted Living and Elder Communities


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