Page 13 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - December 2017 - 24-12
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Senior Times - December 2017 Page 13
The Saints Go Marching with Janice
By: Ann Conklin – Life Enrichment Director, Evergreen Senior Care and Rehab
We are so thankful to be
part of the Melodious
Memories program from
Miles for Memories here
at Evergreen because our
residents have been given the
gift of music, individualized and meaningful music. Our residents with Alzheimer’s type dementia have been
given the gift of “remembering” the
music that has played a part in their lives. For some it literally takes them back to a time and place that they can verbalize, for others the music gives voice to the words of songs long forgotten. For some the music evokes tears, smiles, memories, laughter, and verbal communication at times, of how the music makes them feel. Sometimes there are no words but the memories they experience are almost tangible, the far off look in the eyes can be a pinhole through which we can look and get a glimpse of who they once were.
As this program continues we are find- ing that it isn’t just our residents who are benefiting from the program, we as care- givers are benefiting by learning more about our residents then they are able to tell us, for this we are thankful.
This is our story of Janice. She is 78 years of age and has a diagnosis of demen- tia with behavioral disturbances; her demen- tia has been progressing for a few years. Janice is alert but disoriented. Her confu- sion is constant, without clarity. She is ver- bal but her speech is nonsensical and often repetitive. She often counts out loud and may attempt interaction when approached
with, “Yes, yes, yes.” She is unable to fol- low a one-step direction, unable to com- prehend what is being said to her. Janice walks, a lot, without purpose or direction with no safety awareness or consideration for personal space. Janice is a challenge because she is unable to engage in activities of interest and has minimal attention span, seconds for the most part. With this bit of history it is fairly easy to see that Janice has lost much of who she was prior to demen- tia.
One thing we do know is that Janice has always loved music. Janice is offered music regularly, sometimes she allows us to pro- vide her music, and other times she takes off the headphones. On the times when she allows the headphones she often is able to relax a bit, sitting instead of constant walk- ing, tapping her hand to the beat of the music. Many times she has been able to really relax, closing her eyes and moving
to the music often to the point of drifting off to sleep. On a few occasions Janice has mouthed the words to a particular song or two. When she enjoys the music for pro- longed periods of time we have had more
success interacting with her.
On one occasion she had lis-
tened to the music for about an hour sitting calmly, the headphones were
removed and she was included in a sensory group, sing along. Janice
stayed focused through- out the group, not getting restless or agitated. One of our life enrichment staff had
been singing individually with some of our residents, connecting
one to one. Janice’s turn, standing as Janice was, looking her in the eyes and holding her hands our staff member Julie started singing “When the Saints go marching in.”
From my office across the hall I heard two beautiful voices singing word for word with feeling. There stood Janice singing every word, melody and chorus
– word for word and smiling! Oh what a beautiful moment, not a dry eye on the hall.
Although we have attempted to recre-
ate this experience with Janice we have
not been successful. But we firmly believe that Janice continues to enjoy the music
and the journey it takes her on, even if she cannot share it with us. We will continue to offer and provide her with music and hope for more times of clarity and joy. In these moments we realize once again that music reaches the soul and touches the heart, takes us on a journey and brings us joy. It can also open doors long closed in the brain... we continue to work to open those doors.
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