A few words from our Volunteers…
Making a Fuss
At a recent concert performed by musicians playing the harp and flute, one gentleman who was badly affected by Alzheimer’s, was accompanied by his visiting wife who said that he had conducted male voice choirs for much of his life. The musicians made a huge fuss of him and as the music went on he started to conduct it quietly to himself. Eventually, as the volunteer sang to him, they both ended up conducting each other. Afterwards his wife was quite emotional and said that it was the most responsive she had seen him in the last six months.
At the beginning of the concert Roy remained slumped in his chair with no response until Mary, the volunteer attempted to get him involved. We were all absolutely astounded when she managed to get him to his feet and he began dancing enthusiastically to the beat of the music. He has no verbal communication or facial expression but his rhythmic movement indicated to all of us how much he was enjoying the session. The carers were shocked to see him get so involved and hopefully they now know what sort of music engenders this sort of response. He even managed to wink and blow me a kiss!!
Tess is 97 years of age and has become more fatigued over recent months. Today she was a little grumpy on arrival and it first seemed that she would perhaps choose to sit quietly with her daughter. However, on hearing one of her favourite tunes, ‘Edelweiss’, she visibly brightened.
The really special moment came a little later though when the talk turned to Gracie Fields – this proved a real catalyst and both her daughter and carers were delighted to see her not only joining in with gusto to sing ‘Sally’, but to give an enlightened account of her time working in the same mill as Gracie Fields in Wigan.
Tess also mentioned George Formby and our musicians valiantly obliged with ‘Cleaning Windows’. It was a truly magical few moments – Tess was energised and these wonderful melodies and their notable lyrics seemed to over-ride the significant hearing loss this lady suffers. Memory and melody triumphed, and Tess’s daughter was thrilled to see her mother’s delight.
Barry is in a very severe unit in Rotherham and when I visited during a recent concert, he was slumped in a bed chair, eyes shut with his head on one side showing no response. Having ignored him for the first half of the concert, I felt moved to go over and I knelt down in front of him, held his hand and sang along with the Soprano. He very gradually opened his eyes, lifted his head and even smiled at me. He tapped his hand at the side of the chair to the beat of the music and eventually started clapping.
By the end of the concert he was actually attempting a conversation with me. Had I not gone over, he might have remained slumped in his bed chair with no response! What is more the following month there was Barry sitting lively and smiling with a carer at his side and getting involved with the music as much as he could. “Barry loves his music” the carer said. I knew Barry loved his music, but what was more important was that she now knew he did!