Saturday, June 02, 2007

Music Therapy

My grandmother has advanced-stage Alzheimers Disease. She hasn't spoken a coherent sentence in years, and it has been even longer since she was able to recognize any one of her six children. She has lived in the Alzheimers Unit at a nursing home for a few years now (before that she was in Assisted Living), but was recently moved to a more intensive nursing environment due to the progression of her disease. With this in mind, I am quite sure you can imagine our skepticism when the facility suggested they try music therapy with her. They said that it lasts about 45 minutes and that oftentimes, patients will be able to speak with their family members, and the results are often quite positive. After the session, the patient reverts back, and it doesn't work on each and every patient - but they felt it was worth a try with Grandma. They indicated that sometimes it can connect some of those loose wires in the brain (so to speak) for a few minutes of family time.

My mother was in Wyoming for my niece's wedding, and my Aunt Linda was the only one there. She wasn't expecting much from the session, but figured she'd go to support grandma and to see how things went. What she witnessed was amazing. My grandmother remembered some of the names of her children. She was able to communicate that she was in a tremendous amount of pain in her feet. She was able to actually speak and converse with my Aunt Linda for about half an hour (she didn't recognize her as her daughter, Linda - but she spoke sentences that made sense). It was such a miracle for them to have those moments together. They repeated the therapy on Thursday, after my mother returned from her trip. My Aunt Sandy was able to come down from Georgia for the session as well. Once again, they were amazed at the results. She knew my mother had been to see her every day until her trip - and she told Mom that she shouldn't leave town again, she should come see her instead. She was aware that my Aunt's husband was tired from his trip down there. She was able to connect with her family in a way that was not possible just moments before. This time together has been such a blessing to them all. Once again, she reverted back within about half an hour - but those 30 minutes were so precious to those present. Hospice still only gives grandma six months at the most - but at least there have been these two bright and shining moments for her children to cherish.

I am so grateful for this time that her family had with her this past week. I am grateful for the wonderful, giving, loving workers who care for her every day. And I am grateful to God for giving them this gift of conversation.

Blessings to you all.

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