Getting Someone's Attention Through Music

I am the activity director in a healthcare facility.  We have an Alzheimer’s resident that sang for the Boston Pops.  She is in total care and still ambulates slowly, and makes constant noise, chanting, etc.  It’s difficult to get her attention.  I have tried sounds of nature for her to listen to with headphones, baby dolls, but I’d appreciate any suggestions.

Pat in Massachusetts, 61

Dear Pat,

Thank you for caring and being in the helping profession. We need more trained individuals like you. Now about your client: I believe music is magic. It’s a way to reach people when many other ways do not seem to work. Ask her family (if they’re available) what type of music did liked or listened to when she was 15-30 years old.  I realize this has little to do with her professional background in opera, but it’s important that she listens to the music of that period in her life.

Also observe the rhythm she expresses in her walking, speech pattern, and/or chatter. She may be sending out clues that she’s listening to her own music. It usually takes some trial and error to find the right music, but it is well worth the effort since every individual who is dealing with dementia deserves our help, understanding, and support.

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