Because an elephant never forgets

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, July 21, 2022

By Haley Mitchell Godwin
The Luverne Journal

The Alzheimer’s Association Alabama Chapter recently donated plush stuffed animals to be given out to residents of Luverne Health and Rehabilitation.

On July 7, Peggy Fowler, site manager at Meadowcrest Apartments, Vivian Pippins, and Johnnie Pettus both Meadowcrest tenants, delivered 73 plush elephants to the long term care facility in Luverne.The stuffed animals were handed out by Lawanda Harrell, activities supervisor at Luverne Health and Rehab.

“The residents loved the elephants,” Harrell said. “I could see the delight in their faces. We have several here that suffer from Alzheimer’s and during the time we stopped allowing visitors due to COVID, they could just not understand why their loved ones were not coming to see them. What really helps our Alzheimer’s patients is when they are shown a lot of love and care by those around them. Handing out these elephants is a great opportunity for them to receive a little added affection and interaction.”

Jessica Carpenter Miller, with the Alzheimer’s Association Alabama Chapter, said that the gift of the stuffed animals offers a tangible gesture of warmth and compassion, which Alzheimer’s patients need now more than ever.

“What we saw during the pandemic was an increase in the progression of the disease because of isolation,” Miller said. “Care facilities were not allowing visitors, so those in nursing homes could not be around their loved ones and friends and families were simply not gathering. Socialization is a big component to at least slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s. You’ve heard the saying “an elephant never forgets.” The elephants symbolize memory and the stuffed animals are a great way for people with Alzheimer’s to interact with a healthcare worker or a loved one. When someone with Alzheimer’s gets agitated, the elephants can provide a point of focus and help to create some calm.”

The Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline is available around the clock, 365 days a year. Through this free service, specialists and master’s-level clinicians offer confidential support and information to people living with dementia, caregivers, families and the public. Access to the 24-hour helpline is available online at https://www.alz.org/help-support/resources/helpline and can also be reached by calling 800.272.3900.