Caregiver Support

Music Brings Light

28 Feb, 2017

Although we collectively ‘celebrate’ valentine’s day on Feb 14th, my dad’s home decided to celebrate a few days early with a family music night. Our daughter, who is 15, played guitar alongside the music therapist.  The leisure therapist handed out song books she had made up, and people requested their favourite songs.  Some were improvised, some were better known.  But for the first time during the winter months, everyone at my dad’s home, all 20 people, came together with their relatives & friends to sing oldies, songs of love, and songs of happiness.  What an awesome experience for everyone present.

Another Valentine’s idea that sparked from my neighbour who has battled and beaten down cancer 2 times in the last 4 years.  She had the idea to have her daughter’s local cheer squad of 10-14 year old girls make personalized home made Valentine’s day cards for everyone living with my dad.  The smiles on people’s faces when they received their “first Valentine” of 2017; was incredible.

The place where my dad lives is open, caring, honest and inclusive.  These qualities invite community and family members to engage.  If there is one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that all living people care. They really do.  So, care to take the time to walk through the doors of a home where people are living with dementia.  You will experience a range of authentic emotions including gratitude, joy, sorrow, confusion, delight and everything will be 100% real. You will receive as much as you give.

Thanks to our Friend  Carolyn Duckworth with Care2Care.

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When I was in High School I got in trouble a lot and there was an old person’s home near our campus. One time I got assigned  31 of hours community service by my principal. He thought it’d take up more of my time and keep me out of trouble… he was right.

Everyday for a month I had to go volunteer at the home. They asked me to read to this lady who couldn’t see the print in books very well. I read to her all sorts of things I would never read, like classic novels, tales of Epic Legends, a lot of Poetry. She never said too much. Always just listened to me read and thanked me for my time.

One of the last days I was assigned to read to her she had a gift for me. It was book I hadn’t heard of and on the inside cover there was a quote that said

“Do not let what you cannot do, interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden

I found out months later that the book was written by her. One day I went to visit her and ask her why she didn’t tell me that she was the author. When I walked in she was sitting by the window just looking outside. I asked her what was read to her today and she told me how there isn’t anyone to read to her anymore so she hadn’t listened to anything in a while. On my way out I left her my Ipad, headphones and a library full of Audio books I thought she would like with a note that read that same quote.

– Kelsy J, 32 Ct.

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I had a patient assigned to my floor a few years ago. He was an interesting fellow. Every time I walked past his room he’d be talking to himself in the mirror, not just little chants but full on conversations. He had a lot of visitors and while his actions determined that his logic wasn’t all there, he held pretty cognitive conversations. If you met the guy for the first time you probably wouldn’t realize he had any diagnosis.

“Hey Jeff,” I interrupted one of his one on one conversations. “I’m getting ready to take off, did you need anything else for the evening?” He didn’t respond right away, instead he finished his sentence in the mirror.

“… Thats all you can do for the day, and there’s going to be more visitors tomorrow if you need to act differently then you will have another chance to do it then.” He turned to me then “No Marcus, thank you.”

“Jeff, what are you talking about id you don’t mind me asking?” I sat down behind him on his bed.

He looked at my reflection in the mirror for a moment before saying “I am just talking about my  day.”

“What about your day?” I ask.

“Well I firmly believe in the mirror test.”  he said turning around to face me, “All that matters is if you can honestly look yourself in the mirror and tell the person you see there that you have done your best for the day.”

“Why not just tell yourself in your head?” I ask

“When you ask god for forgiveness its one thing to say it to your self, but its a whole other experience to go to a preacher and tell him all your darkest moments and ask him to pray for you.” He shut his eyes and lowered his head, without opening his eyes he continued. “I don’t always recognize that guy in the reflection but I know this is my room, that is my plant over there, and my picture of my wife on the bed stand. I know that that guy is me. Everyday I tell myself to be better so when I meet God I know that I tried as hard as I could to be an honest human.”

I touched his shoulder, and looked at my reflection and said “You did a good job today, tomorrow you’ll do great” I turned to Jeff who was watching me curl his lips into a smile.

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