Mudcat Café message #3300496 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #143037   Message #3300496
Posted By: Barbara Shaw
01-Feb-12 - 04:45 PM
Thread Name: Entertaining dementia patients
Subject: RE: Entertaining dementia patients
I've played at nursing homes for dementia and physically impaired residents many times with my husband. I also spent quite a bit of time visiting my mother who was in a nursing home for 2 years, so I also heard a lot of what other musicians were doing.

We played bluegrass and old folk songs. Most people had never heard any of the songs, but they all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the music and often joined in singing by the last chorus. We generally stuck to the lively, upbeat songs that got their toes and fingertips tapping, although we did occasionally throw in a waltz or two (which put a few to sleep).

My point is that they were thrilled at hearing something different, in our experience. They had many performers coming in regularly who played the same old familiar tunes and songs from their youth, and I heard several residents complain about the "same old songs" that so-and-so always sang. Think about how their daily routine is fairly bland, and how much a new song or a new entertainer would brighten that day.

Many of the patients were even enthralled watching us set up and break down. Something they don't get to see every day, with new faces, new equipment and new procedures to look at. By the way, we always set up a small PA to boost the sound a bit, since most of them had hearing deficiencies to some extent, being generally older.

Don't limit yourself to certain periods. Do what you do best and do it with energy and affection, and I'm sure you will reach the residents. Good luck!