Immersive Healing

with Allyson Schrier,

Co-Founder and CEO, Zinnia

This week on the Art of Aging, host Michael Hughes chats with Allyson Schrier, CEO of Zinnia, an app that gives immersive videos for those with dementia. During the episode, Mike and Allyson discuss the topic of immersive healing. The discussion includes what immersive healing is, tips for caring with someone with dementia, music’s place in immersive healing, the mission and story behind Zinnia, and more.
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Highlights from this week’s conversation include:

  • What is immersive healing? (0:50)
  • How Allyson became involved with her work (1:26)
  • Setting the stage for healing through finding the right fit (3:50)
  • Founding Zinnia and what the organization does (6:03)
  • Connecting with those with dementia through video content (10:12)
  • The mindfulness of immersive healing (12:47)
  • Gifting ourselves with immersive healing (15:59)
  • General tips for someone caring for someone with dementia (18:39)
  • Music’s place in immersive healing (23:53)
  • Abundant aging questions for Allyson (26:41)
  • Connecting with Allyson and Zinnia (34:39)


Abundant Aging is a podcast series presented by United Church Homes. These shows offer ideas, information, and inspiration on how to improve our lives as we grow older. To learn more and to subscribe to the show, visit


Michael Hughes 00:07
Hello and welcome to another episode of The Art of Aging, which is part of the Abundant Aging podcast series from United Church Homes. On this show, we look at what it means to age in America and in other places around the world with positive and empowering conversations that challenge, encourage and inspire everybody everywhere to age with abundance. And I’m joined today by Allyson Schrier, a former family caregiver for her husband’s dementia. Allyson is co-founder and CEO of Zinnia. An app to support Dementia Caregivers by playing videos that are digestible by engaging for people with dementia, videos that help calm soothe videos that entertain and videos that encourage adherence to activities of daily living, like eating and drinking. So Alison, very excited for this conversation. Welcome.

Allyson Schrier 00:51
Thank you. I’m very excited to be here. Thank you for having me. Great.

Michael Hughes 00:56
And the subject today is immersive healing, and how it applies within therapy programs for people with memory loss and cognitive decline. So let’s just start out with the definition. What is immersive healing?

Allyson Schrier 01:09
Yeah, I would say that immersive healing is immersing a person in a sensory environment that promotes healing. So well healing or mental or emotional healing.

Michael Hughes 01:22
Gotcha. So it really is about it is an environment to set the stage for wellness, it’s setting the stage for healing. And we’re talking today about immersive healing as a component of therapy programs for people with memory loss, dementia. How did you find yourself in this work?

Allyson Schrier 01:41
Sure, I’ll talk about that. Let me also just go a little bit more deeply into immersive healing, because I think I could tell you more about that perfect. So immersive healing can be used both to help people physically and to help people with mental emotional healing. So looking at the physical piece first. So imagine that I have a child who has injured their arm. And what I want is for them to do an exercise and I want them to do it every day, three times a day, they need to do this 20 times and they need to do this 20 times, and getting somebody to comply with that can be kind of hard. So immersive healing in a physical sense would be that, ah, but I can use a I can immerse them visually and auditorily in say, a game that encourages them to do a particular action that is really resulting in their healing, but to them, they’re having fun. So maybe when I do this 10 times, what’s actually happening is that each rotation fills up visually a bank. And at the end of 10 times the bank is full. And now I can buy a really cool sword, for instance, right. So that would be an example of how we sort of gamify healing by making it an immersive experience for that person. In August of 2022, a paper was published that was based on a study that took place in Spain, where there were 335 health care workers who had been pretty impacted by their work throughout COVID. And so what they did with those 335 people is they did a study where they used vert, VR headsets, and they immersed people in a world where there were beautiful and soothing visual and auditory experiences. So it might be nature programming, or mindfulness programming. And what they discovered is that through this experience, people had significant improvements in anxiety and well being. And so we are tapping into, we’re sort of CO opting, right, their visual and their auditory input, to bring them to a place where they are at peace, and where healing occurs,

Michael Hughes 03:56
You know, more and more, I’m just realizing, and this conversation just fits so naturally, with a number of other guests that we’ve had on the podcast, of late just talking about just how the mind state is so important to longevity, and success. And, you know, because when you think about, you know, if somebody’s adhering to something like you just described, I mean, it has to be meaningful. And what I always like to say is, you know, no one takes a pill because they like how it tastes, you know, it has, you know, there’s a motivation behind that. And there’s a connection that needs to be made. And, you know, there are people out there that may have different cues and different motivations and all that. So I would imagine that really setting the stage for wellness and setting the stage for healing requires some experimentation as to which immersive experience might be best for you, right?

Allyson Schrier 04:43
Oh my gosh, absolutely. And if you think about this, we all kind of engage in immersive healing on our own. We’re able to create environments like even me deciding to take a hot bath, turn down the lights, maybe play soft music, I am creating a space for myself. That takes me to a place where I can completely relax and completely immerse in these experiences that take me away from the things that are troubling me. So everybody who’s walking down the street with air pods, and every time that I sit down and I say, You know what, I just need to put on a movie that I know is going to completely pull me in. ” There was even a study that I was looking at recently, an NIH study that was talking about gardening as a form of immersive healing, because I’ve removed myself physically from the world that is troubling me. And I’ve brought myself to a place where I can focus on something that brings me joy. Yes, that is healing.

Michael Hughes 05:39
Yeah, that’s what inspires me too. Because, you know, you know, people, you may tend to look at these things as indulgences. Right. But I mean, these are necessary things for wellness, right?

Allyson Schrier 05:51
Oh, my gosh, yes, creating situations that allow me to be away from distractions that take me away from the things that are troubling me, is enormously healing?

Michael Hughes 06:07
Yeah, let’s get into let’s get into I mean, you’re doing great things with Zinnia. I mean, you were inspired to do client therapies for people that you know, for very, for very, you know, often mysterious, you know, disease with dementia with memory loss with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, what have you, and but you’ve been doing just amazing things with xindi. And it just seems so elegant as a solution. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came by it? Well, actually, firstly, let’s travel with Zinnia and give a little bit of an introduction in the overview, but we’d love to hear from you. And just how did you put this together?

Allyson Schrier 06:46
Yeah, you betcha. So a little bit about what Zinnia is. So Zinnia is an app that delivers a library of research driven videos that are specifically created to be digestible by and engaging for people who are living with dementia. So if you think about I’m having a bad day, I as a person who doesn’t have dementia, the world is got me kind of amped up, my anxiety is high, what I might do is sit down and put on a TV show, something that I know is going to completely pull me in, so that I get away from the things that are causing me anxiety. For a person who’s living with dementia, sitting him down in front of a TV show, in hopes that it will pull them out of their anxiety might not be successful, because regular television is intended for people who can track a plot, who can tell fact from fiction, who can process rapidly moving audio and video. And so what you often find when you place a person with dementia, especially mid to late stage dementia in front of a TV show, for instance, is that they are looking around, they are maybe picking it themselves. My husband used to hit himself when he was frustrated. And these are the kinds of things that I would see when I would put television on for him or he would fall asleep, right, because it’s just so boring, he cannot follow it. And so going inward and falling asleep is more appealing than watching the show. But then of course, we now have nighttime wakefulness because he slept during the day when he was parked in front of a television show that he couldn’t watch. So Zinnia is intended to, as I said, be something that people living with dementia are able to focus on, they are able to be immersed by this programming, which is slow paced, visually stunning. We have beautiful music that’s playing in the background. And so therefore I can be in this other place. And for me as a caregiver, when the person that I love is able to be soothed in this way, it gives me a couple of benefits. One, wow, I can actually step out of the room and maybe start getting some dinner prep done because my sweet one is completely engaged. Additionally, he’s now in a better place like his anxiety has gone down, which means that my anxiety goes down. If he’s happy, I’m happy. So Zinnia has programming that is probably most reminiscent. It is. We have nature videos that are appealing, soothing. We also have videos that are intended to reach somebody through their interests, like maybe what they were really into when they were a healthy person was fly fishing, or baking or basketball or maybe they were in the military. We’ve got videos that are intended to very, very much appeal to people based on who they were when they were a healthy person to tap back into those parts of themselves. We also have videos that are specifically intended to help with adherence to activities of daily living so that if I find that every day we just get into a fight about just drinking your water. If I play this video that shows people drinking water and loving it, what we find is that the person who’s living with dementia sees, oh, okay, everybody is doing this thing. I’m going to do this thing too. And so once again, it improves their health and well being, which also improves my health and well being as the caregiver.

Michael Hughes 10:17
Like I said, it’s an elegant solution, you know, and I think that it’s, it’s the connection to one’s past. Yeah, I know, I was joking with you in the team that we were prepping for this thing. You know, if I could ever get into that situation, I wanted a looping 90 minute video of nothing but German cars from 1968, to maybe like, 2005. That’s my thing. I love it, whatever it be, just to know that there’s a connection there even. Because, you know, it’s, especially with late stage dementia, you know, when somebody may not be responsive, you know, what do people tend to do? What I’ve heard is that, you know, they may not recognize you, but they know they like you or not, right, there’s something sort of inherent in that bond or that connection that doesn’t really audio or visually process. But there’s just sort of a sense there, right?

Allyson Schrier 11:05
Yes, I would say that. I don’t know who you are. But I know that I know you. Yes. And so that sense of familiarity brings me ease. One of the things that we say is that people who are living with dementia, never forget how you made them feel. Yeah, and so I may not know who you are. But I know that there is an emotional sense that I get when I see you. And so therefore, one of the things that I did for years, while Zinnia was in its earliest stages, is that I taught classes to professional caregivers who work in long term care. And so these were full day dementia and mental health classes. And one of the thing that I really emphasized is that if you are having a rough day as the caregiver, and so you’re a little short and snappy with the person, and maybe you’re rushing them, and you’re making their anxiety go up, they may not the next time they see you remember who you are. But that visual image, that face is associated with an emotional response. And the emotion that I get when I see that face is that my anxiety starts to go up. And so therefore, it’s imperative when we’re supporting people with dementia, that we create an association that this face is awesome, that this face is associated with emotions that make you feel calm, and that make you feel better about yourself. So therefore, we really, we want to really take big breaths, when we’re supporting people living with dementia, we want to bring our best selves forward, we want to really check in with our own emotional state,

Michael Hughes 12:39
which again, you know, makes the need for Mercer healing all that much more just to really define your own environment for reflection, and for recharging and all the rest of it. That’s really, you know, I can see that through the line there. So, you know, it seems I mean, immersive healing, as a concept seems pretty simple, but very intentional. You know, if I want to run this, I mean, you know, and by the way, for the listeners, I am getting over laryngitis, the grind does not stop at United your job. So that’s why this baby patient for me. So when we’re talking about just like, I’ll give you an example, people are always saying, you know, Mike, or you know, you should try meditation, you should try mindfulness. I am not good at any of those things. My brain does not work that way. But I do seek to bring in the benefits of mindfulness back to myself. So just for anybody out there, how would you advise them to start on their immersive healing practice? Sure,

Allyson Schrier 13:41
I would encourage myself, so I meditate. I have you know, I think that we all are inclined to say I can’t. I’m not like those people who can meditate because my mind goes all over the place. Even the most amazing meditators in the world, their minds go all over the place. Meditation isn’t about preventing your mind from going all over the place. Meditation is about recognizing that your mind is going all over the place and bringing yourself back to your breath. So if I’m sitting and I’m breathing, and I’m paying attention, what I’ll notice is that I am no longer paying attention to my breath. Instead, I’m paying attention to the list of things that I need to get done. And so what I do as a mediator is, I notice that I am now thinking about the million and five things that I need to get done today. And I bring myself back to my breath, I say, okay, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, and I focus on that breath. And then suddenly, I noticed that what I’m really thinking about is whether or not I remember to iron the dress that I’m going to be wearing to the thing tonight, and then I say, Ooh, back to the breath. So I would argue that everybody can meditate. And what happens over time, is that you get better at noticing that you’ve left You get better at bringing yourself back. And so the way that this works out in everyday life is being really present in the moment when I am talking to you. Am I really focusing on you and hearing the words that you’re saying? Or am I thinking about that dress that I need to iron? And so meditation practice helps us be more present in every aspect of our day to day living, which allows us to be calmer, and to bring us ease. Because what it allows me to do is when I start getting a little bit stressed about the fact that dammit I didn’t check, sorry. Sorry, bad words. But when I get stressed, and I start thinking about, Oh, my gosh, if I don’t get to these things that I need to get done, I can feel my heart rate start to go up, I can feel my breathing start to quicken. And So meditation is about the practice that allows us to notice the physical impacts of our thought processes, and say, That’s not healthy for me. I’m getting all stressed out. And what I need to do is just come back to this moment.

Michael Hughes 16:02
It’s basically like, like, it looks like training a muscle, right? I mean, there’s a muscle that allows you to be present in the moment being present in the moment allows you to notice the things around you to notice the you know, what’s where you are, right now, where you want, because when you’re talking about present in the moment, being present means not living in the future, right? I mean, a lot of what you’re describing, oh, I have this to do, I have that to do. This is future Allyson, you know, this is future like I don’t want future Alison to suffer. I don’t want a future Mike to suffer, you know, but yet, you’re the anxiety is suffering in the moment. And so it’s this, these are pathways solutions. And whether you meditate or whether you take a moment to garden or whether you listen to soothing music, or take a walk or things like that, these are all gifts to ourselves that are pretty necessary, right?

Allyson Schrier 16:56
Oh my gosh, these being able to stop and garden for a little while being able to listen to music, being able to if it’s watching your favorite show, whatever it is, that allows you to be fully immersed in that thing, like that’s the nugget of immersive healing, is that I am tapping into a place that takes me away from the things that are causing me high anxiety, yeah, I’m going someplace that gives my body and my mind some relief, which is why things like nature videos are particularly helpful, right? So if I like best would be if I could step out my door, and I’m in the woods, and I get to go for a walk. But not everybody is able to do that. So therefore, even if I’m able to watch a video that shows me a beautiful escape from nature, I can be in that place. Because while my physical being isn’t in that place, my mental and emotional beings are in that place. Yeah. And that’s what really matters. And

Michael Hughes 17:51
I think that, you know, it’s tough when you’re talking about, you know, this applied work with people with with a dementia diagnosis or things like that, especially if you’re talking about the later stage because, you know, what I sort of talk about, you know, what gives us a return on investment United Church home so that our memory care units and things like that, it really isn’t a lot of very quantifiable benefit that our people see for using solutions, if you’re tight are things like you know, robotic pets or things like that. They just know, it works. For some reason, I had staff say, you know, I don’t know if this is because of how much this is reducing somebody’s anxiety, or promoting better. All I know is that it works for us. And it works for them. And I’m going back to this idea about I love the idea of creating that association you’re facing with the emotion, right, because, you know, it’s a virtuous circle, where tools and things that really do get to the heart of someone’s personal point of relaxation, you know, creates kind of a virtuous kind of like Pay It Forward type of thing with a caregivers with caregivers feel better. It really does create something very special. I think.

Allyson Schrier 19:00
I agree with you completely. And I love that phrase virtuous circle. And I think that is an important thing for people who are giving care whether they’re paid caregivers or family, unpaid family caregivers, to recognize that sort of good begets good.

Michael Hughes 19:16
Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about just I mean, we talked about best practices for immersive therapy for oneself. And then, you know, whether you use it or not, I mean, there are tactics for people that are in different stages of dementia, things that will come, things that will cure things that will, I mean, just in your body of work, and with your personal experience, too. I know if you’re a caregiver for somebody, let’s say in mid to late stage dementia. What you have found is helpful as a kind of a body of practice or even just general tips to reduce anxiety, promote better sleep, that sort of thing. Oh, sure,

Allyson Schrier 20:02
That’s a great question. So what have I found? Or what would I recommend as tips to help relieve anxiety and promote better sleep for somebody who’s living with mid to late stage dementia? How much time do you have? A big part of it is about relationships. So I just did a lecture the other day about communication tips for people who are family caregivers. And of course, it works. It’s the same thing for professional caregivers, but avoiding arguments, avoiding situations that cause a person to feel like they are less capable, encouraging somebody to do as much as they can for themselves, recognizing what they can still do, instead of focusing on what they can’t do. So all of the things that just help them more holistically feel like a more intact person, right there, I’m going to improve things, I’m going to create opportunities for success, there is this idea of cognitive ramps, which is that I want to recognize that if there are things that are challenging for a person to do that I try to pull those out of the equation. So if, for instance, their job in the morning is to make the coffee, they’re starting to put the cream into the coffee machine instead of the water into the coffee machine. How can I promote success? Well, gosh, I could put a note on the machine that says put water in here, I could put a water pitcher right by the coffee machine. So I want to encourage success. As far as activities go, I want to not push people to do activities that they don’t enjoy. I want to be really respectful of their routine. If they’re a person who showered in the evening, when they were a healthy person, I don’t want to force them into a shower in the morning, which is going to cause upset and agitation. If I play music for them, I want to make sure that I play music that they love, not just music that they will tolerate. If I put on video programming for them, I want to watch them, are they starting to drift off? Are they looking around the room? Are they starting to do whatever it is that indicates that they’re actually agitated right now. So these are I mean, these are just a few of the things, you know that I think we need

Michael Hughes 22:08
to know, it’s, these are great tips. And I think that really what I’m carrying from it is kind of a three line is really you don’t get to know these you get to the person as a person, you know, their interests, their routines, their preferences, their cultural practices, their language preferences, things like that. And yeah, I mean, I think you know, this point about the shower, I mean, if you mix up somebody’s routine, you know, especially if they are newly to a memory care unit, I mean, this is gonna be very disruptive, the move to a memory care unit. And just this idea of having just those familiar cues around you, or even just the music, no music, I mean, music is terribly important. You know, because music, and musical memory is just such an amazing mystery of the mind, like how we can also smell, but just how we can just grasp onto the cadence of music in that part of our brains, right?

Allyson Schrier 23:00
Oh, my goodness, yes. So we’ve, you and I, others who have worked with folks in long term care, we’ve all witnessed the miracle of music, how people who are just sitting sort of looking like they’re asleep in their wheelchair, and then you put on a piece of music that they know. And these people who are seemingly non verbal, will pick up and start singing a song. And what we also find, of course, is that when that song is over, we have opened up a pathway into their personality, like we’re able to actually have conversations that we wouldn’t be able to have had they not just listened to music. So it wakes people up, it brightens them, it exposes them to themselves in a way that never happens. If we don’t help them get to that place by providing them the right healing tools, the right music, for instance, I was driving the other day with one of my girlfriends, and we were listening to her playlist on Spotify. And I said, you know, I need to create something like Allyson’s happy place list. So that if I reach a point where I am unable to choose my own music, what would I want people playing for me? And so I started creating a playlist. That’s Allyson’s happy place playlist. Okay, and I’d be embarrassed to tell you what’s on it and I don’t have my phone with me or I would open it up and share it with you. There’s a lot of Joni Mitchell Yeah, some Aretha Franklin. Yeah, so

Michael Hughes 24:36
the exact same thing by the way, I’ve thought it’d be so cool to say what’s the music you want to play at your funeral? And you know, something to Allyson. I mean, it’s, you know, sometimes I’ll feel that maybe I don’t want you to know, I’m very much into electronic music. I listen to a lot of different mixes and things like that. It’s like, do I really need to live listen to this mix for another 100 times but like right now I do right? Even for now. I mean, just putting yourself into a place where, you know, I mean, on my list is like an LCD sound system, and all sorts of other, you know, kooky things that I have associations with. But I mean, I will put the song on even though Oh, you’ve listened to that 100 times, right? Because that is part of now in a context of the members of the healing place. You know, I mean, I love trying new things. And knowing that we’re just going back to the things that you value, you hold deep and then memorialize, letting your loved ones know that this is important to you. I mean, it’s pretty cool.

Allyson Schrier 25:31
I think it is pretty cool. I’m fully in favor of any kind of effort one makes as a healthy person to document what makes me happy and healthy. So that when I am no longer able to make those choices for myself, the people who are supporting me won’t have to guess. Now, it may well be that there’s music that I love right now that somebody plays for me at a later date, and I don’t love it. So pay attention, pay attention. And then play something else from my list, because maybe the last time that I was listening to that particular piece of music was when I fell down in the shower or whatever. Right. So we need to constantly pay attention.

Michael Hughes 26:19
Well, Alison, I think that you’ve shared some terrific tips here. I mean, there’s a lot going for people who are caring for people with dementia, for yourself and your own self care. And I’m just glad that you’re giving people permission to go to these places and offering guidance and really just see it through the line between doing these things as practices, and the benefits, we can get interest in terms of our overall holistic wellness. So thank you very much for that. But you’re not, we’re not over yet. And, Alison, before we close up the show, we always like to ask our guests three questions about aging. And Okay, boys hold up. Let’s see if we can do this for you. Would you mind if I ask you those questions?

Allyson Schrier 26:52
I wouldn’t mind at all.

Michael Hughes 26:54
Okay. All right. So our first question in aging is this. When you think about how you’ve aged? What do you think has changed about you or grown with you, that you really like about yourself?

Allyson Schrier 27:05
Okay, I think the first thing that pops to mind for me that I like about myself, that has grown as I have aged, primary one is self confidence. I believe in myself in a way that I don’t think I always did. I also trust my intuition. I used to second guess myself a lot. And I have learned over time that when I feel this way, and I respond this way that works for me. And then finally, I think that I have become and a lot of this has to do with my experience as a dementia family caregiver, as well as, I think that I have just become a lot more tuned in to the impact that I have on other people. Very cool, and respectful of that, right? Getting that way than I am in the world doesn’t necessarily appeal to everybody. So how do I be in a world in a way that brings ease to the people that are part of my life, and it just really shows

Michael Hughes 28:09
me kind of the richness about you and that you know, as people age you the experiences, the trust that you build in yourself, all of those different things, and then just you know, the way that you think about the way you serve others, I think that’s just wonderful. Well, question number two, what has surprised you most about yourself, as you wish,

Allyson Schrier 28:27
I would say something that has surprised me, and also pleased me. It is one of the things that my husband did when he was still his best self. He used to say that he loved that I had retained a sort of childlike sense of wonder. And I think that is something that has not gone away, and that I really love is that I am just amazed by the world. And I’m so incredibly fortunate to have a sweetheart in my life, who shares that. And we recently got a microscope and we’re constantly like finding things, we come back and we explore them. And so that to me is like, Wow, I’m so glad that I am still able to just appreciate the novelty of the huge world.

Michael Hughes 29:17
You know, Ginny, my neighbor here, would mind me saying that she’s in her 80s. She’s got a wonderful bumper sticker on her car that says, curiosity never retires. Then she. That’s great. And then Okay, so our last question. Is there someone that you’ve met or been in your life that has set a good example for you and aging somebody that inspires you to as we say, Here, age with abundance?

Allyson Schrier 29:39
Yes. I would say that I have both examples of people who are aging without abundance. And I watch how they live their lives and I watch where it has brought them and I think oh, I don’t want to do that. And so those can be contrasted with the folks who spend most of their time watching TV, who seem very closed minded, who feel like their way is the only way. versus people like my friend, father in law, who everybody calls grandpa Bruce. And I love grandpa Bruce. And what I have watched and learned from watching him is that he, in his 80s, is still a docent at a local museum, he still takes classes at the University of Washington, he is still going to shows and I say, still, he’s reaching to that place of curiosity, and he’s reaching to that place of novelty. And he is excited by the world, he has remained excited by the world and I. And I just really appreciate that. And I recognize that not everybody has the financial or the physical wherewithal to continue traveling, for instance, or to take, enroll in programs that that are costly, but there’s so much that we can do even from home that allows us to continue learning because this also taps into the whole brain thing, right? Like, we know that one of the ways that we slow down cognitive decline is to continue to learn and to do things that are novel. It’s great that people do crossword puzzles. It’s great that people do Sudoku. But frankly, once your brain has figured out how to do Sudoku, so doing Sudoku every day isn’t the thing that’s going to keep your brain from declining, what it’s going to be is finding the next new puzzle to learn how to do and so people who are aging abundantly, that that are part of my life, are people who really tap into that place of constantly learning.

Michael Hughes 31:48
I love that, you know, because, you know, an analogy that I’ve thought of it heard is this idea of, you know, if you take, if you take a look at, you know, where we were, as we were children in the days seem to last forever. And then as adults, you know, sometimes what we’ll say is, oh, man, the days go by so quickly. And I’m thinking there’s an association between discovery and newness and freshness and curiosity. And the way that the days go in your life, you know, you know, it’s like, you know, kids are just learning stuff all the time, and everything’s new, and stimulation, and the days go slowly. It’s kind of like, yeah, you know, I go on vacation. Oh, my goodness, I feel like I’ve been here a week, I’ve only been here for two days, right? So seeking new experiences seems to be this way of not just, just not just keeping things fresh in your mind are also really making your days very engaging, and rich, and long lasting. That’s a reflection that comes to my mind that I think that’s wonderful.

Allyson Schrier 32:49
I think so too. And I think that one of our one of the things that we get sort of locked into is this sense that learning has to have a purpose. So I went to college, and I learned the classes that are going to give me the skills to accomplish a particular job so that I can make money so that I can live my life. So why would anybody start taking classes like, you know, why would you take piano lessons when you’re 82? Because you’re never going to be a master pianist. So what? At the moment, I am playing piano, and I am learning. Even if I play piano badly, which would be me, it doesn’t matter. What and then this gets back to the conversation that we had earlier, Mike about being present in the moment, right? Like what is happening at this moment? At this moment, I just learned, you know how jellyfish eat like, yeah, that’s not going to win me a Nobel Prize. It’s not going to be something that I study in my dissertation. But I just learned something new. And you know what that did? It created stuff in my brain, it made my brain get bigger, it made my brain get smarter.

Michael Hughes 33:55
So I never lose that about myself. Just finding little things is fascinating. I learned the other day that, you know, a lot of Vietnamese restaurants will have numbers in their names, like 475 or 553. And that number would mean maybe the year that family emigrated to the United States. 1975. Or it could be the creation of the South Vietnamese Republican 1953 I don’t think it was right. But just to know that these things are not just there’s so much to learn in the world that you’re never going to have lifetimes upon lifetimes to learn at all. So it’s just so don’t feel guilty if you’re, if you’re learning something for no associated purpose at all. I think that’s a wonderful place and the podcast today. But importantly, first tell us where we can find you.

Allyson Schrier 34:43
Sure. So I am. My email is probably the easiest way to find me. And I’m happy to have people email me if they want to if they have questions, you know, my email address is Allyson a ly S O n at Zinnia. A z i N i A Allyson at Zinnia

Michael Hughes 35:07
And if you want to learn more about Zinnia, that’s Zinnia TV. And thank you so much for just a really engaging conversation today. And there’s so much here, and I really appreciate you taking the time to sit with me. And thank you to our listeners for listening to this episode with my horrible laryngitis voice, the art of aging, which is part of the blended aging podcast series from United Church homes. And we want to hear from you, you know, what did you think about today’s podcast? What do you think immersive healing means to you? You know, What experiences have you had with supporting the needs of somebody who may be in a later stage of dementia? And what tips would you share with somebody you know, please share it. Visit to share those ideas with us. Give us feedback. See us on Youtube under United Church Homes and please subscribe. And then I’m also going to give a plug for our Ruth Frost Parker Center, which is doing our annual symposium in October of 2023. The topic is going to be combating ageism and ending ageism. Allyson, we talked about Zinnia TV before. And please listen to every single one of these you can because we love your support. We love your ideas. Allyson, thank you, listeners, thank you, and we’ll see you next time.