It’s the feast of the Holy Innocents, when we recall King Herod slaughtering the infants of Bethlehem in case they were a threat to him. I hope readers do not see any disrespect in our sharing Eddie Gilmore’s post about the power of music to stimulate people with dementia, but many of them are as dependent on others’ care as a new born baby is. One friend forgets she has had breakfast soon after the meal; she needs someone to make sure she gets enough to eat.
All manner of capacities can be diminished in dementia. Unavoidably at times, people switch off from their surroundings. Due to covid, stimulation from outside had diminished and Eddie found it hard graft to win over his captive audience. But he persevered.
Eddie does not draw a moral from the tale but you may find one yourself. Here follows a short passage, and here’s the link for the full article.
I tried a couple of livelier numbers and slowly but surely I started to get a reaction from the audience and some of the staff were also getting animated. Several people sang along to the chorus of Molly Malone, and when I launched into It’s a Long Way to Tipperary in honour of Delores it didn’t exactly bring the house down but it wasn’t too far off. At one point a young doctor apologised to me that she would have to be taking some people out one by one to take their blood! ‘Don’t worry, I’ve had far worse distractions when I’ve been playing,’ I assured her. You just have to keep going!
Keep going I did, and I noticed that one or two other staff members had crept into the room and were clearly enjoying what was happening. And I noticed that some of the residents, who had appeared almost lifeless at the start, were now moving their bodies in time to the music. I did a couple of ‘favourites’. For Ann, the Irish member of staff who organises the session, I sang The Fields of Athenry. And I did When you were sweet sixteen which is the favourite song of my wife, Yim Soon and also much-loved by my mum. And in honour of my mum, a Newry girl, I did ‘The Star of the County Down’.
I invited requests from the floor and there was one for The Belle of Belfast City which I happily launched into. Then a carer from Greece asked if I knew any songs from Mayo! Luckily I did, although I needed her to bring up on her phone the lyrics to Take me back to Castlebar. After that, someone reminded me that the favourite of Martin, a Cork man sadly no longer there, was Wild Rover. I finished with that, and that one really did bring the house down! By that time, even the Dublin lady was wide awake with a broad smile and with her face shining.