Jul 26, 2013

Moments Matter

Pay attention. Look at the faces of the people you love, listen to the music of your life, feel the wind on your face, taste the ice cream.

Moments Matter

By Tom and Karen Brenner
+Alzheimer's Reading Room 

On a warm summer afternoon as the Chicago traffic buzzed down Clark Street, we sat under the umbrellas of a sidewalk restaurant watching the world stroll by.

Next to our table was a young family, mom and dad and two little boys. While the boys enjoyed their handmade ice cream cones, we couldn’t help but notice that both of their parents were completely immersed in their hand held devices, blackberries or i phones.

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Both parents were turned away from their children, and turned away from each other, staring fixedly at the small screens in their hands. This picture of the two little boys, the ice cream and the totally disengaged parents made us feel so sad.

We have learned through our work with people who live with Alzheimer’s that it is these small moments that matter the most.

This moment: the lovely summer sky, the colorful people walking by, the yellow and green umbrellas of the restaurant, the flower boxes in full bloom on the sidewalk railings, the ice cream, and the little boys’ enraptured faces, all lost to the two people staring into their hands.

We live in a marvelous age of great leaps in technology, almost a renaissance period of change and growth. But if we surrender moments of engagement, moments of relationship to this technology, we will begin to lose pieces of our lives.

These small moments of life are what we will remember when we are older and when we are dealing with memory loss and decline.

The people we meet in our Alzheimer’s work never talk about their cars, or their houses or their stuff; they talk about people and feelings and fleeting moments of memory. These moments are usually just ordinary things, a family dinner, walking home from school, a pick up game of baseball.

But these are the moments that matter; these are the moments that make up our lives.

This is one of the many lessons that we have learned working with people who live with Alzheimer’s: moments matter.


Pay attention; look at the faces of the people you love, listen to the music of your life, feel the wind on your face, taste the ice cream.

These moments are like jewels, strung on the necklace of time. If we lose these small jewels of life, we lose ourselves.

Tom and Karen Brenner are Montessori Gerontologists, researchers, consultants, trainers and writers dedicated to working for culture change in the field of aging. They have been published in magazines and journals both in the US and internationally. Learn more about Tom and Karen at Brenner Pathways

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Original content +Bob DeMarco , the Alzheimer's Reading Room