Music had created a very positive atmosphere for us both throughout the day and evening. Our Night Sitter had an early morning baptism of sound before the end of her shift. We were still going strong listening to UB 40 when Maureen’s Care Coordinator and a colleague arrived almost three hours later.
In the evening we moved to the dining room with Dr Hook on vinyl followed by Nat King Cole. As the resident DJ either with YouTube or a record player at hand, I use music to tap into Maureen’s emotional memory of good times that we have shared and her teenage years putting records on the family radiogram.
As the evening light began to fade Maureen became restless and I suggested a trip into Cleethorpes. Once I saw the full moon through the windscreen of our car I wondered about the wisdom of my suggestion. When we arrived back home Maureen went into her ‘I don’t live here’ routine and demanded to be taken home. After a while, I tried to shift her perspective with another car journey and a ‘party piece’ that had worked on previous occasions.
I think Maureen went along with my ‘party piece’ thinking her ‘trickster’ was just up to another prank saying he had ‘just returned from work’. It may have been the cold night air that led me to give her insufficient time to forget I had dropped her off a few minutes earlier. However, it did give me a few minutes to escape from the vitriol of being an untrustworthy geezer who was always kidnapping women!
As a DJ I can always pick them: those tunes that will tap into positive periods of Maureen life: When it comes to other aspects of her presentation it’s trial and error. Sometimes my party pieces do the trick at others they add substance to her rhetoric that I’m mentally ill and up to no good. However, when the going gets really tough and nothing seems to have any impact I’m consoled by the words of Maureen’s Care Coordinator: ‘with vascular dementia you think you’ve got it then it changes’.
Maureen’s Care Coordinator often tells me ‘you are not a robot’. With no disrespect to her I think I prefer a ‘machine’ analogy:
References linked to today’s post:
David Sheard: Feelings
Oliver Sacks: Music Therapy
Brown University: the benefits of personalised music for residents with dementia in Nursing Homes