So I’d like to tell you a bit about my job. As a Musical Moments session leader I work with people with dementia (other groups as well but these are the ones I will focus on). Each session consists of various musical activities including exercise, singing and role play. All of it is designed to be fun and interactive and allow me to engage with each resident on a personal level. I’m often thanked for the work I do and told how much the residents have enjoyed it and participated well in the session. The act of thanking me, I feel, assumes I get nothing out of it. So today I would like to tell you my side.
As with everybody, we all have certain stresses in our lives. When I turn up for a session lots of things may be happening, it might be as simple as bad traffic. However, spending an hour focussing on music and singing and generally having a good time always leaves me feeling great. It’s the ultimate in mindfulness; it’s living in the moment.
So sometimes we see these people weekly, alternate weeks, or monthly. Sometimes we dance with people, sometimes we sing with people and sometime we comfort people when they are upset, “cheer them up” as I like to call it. Last week I sang “I could have danced all night” with a 102 year old. She has dementia and she was crying but she carried on singing. She thanked me for singing with her but really it was a privilege to do it. Even with over 60 years between us we were able to connect through music and share something. Different for both of us.
So having these connections and experiences and fun and sad times, sometimes we walk into a session, ask where someone is and are told they have passed away. I think it’s often assumed that this doesn’t affect us as it is rare anyone will let me know if I don’t ask. But it does affect us. I have not just given to these people but they have given to me too, more than they know. They have cheered me up when I have more on my mind than they could possibly know. They have made me laugh and sometime even cry when I see them missing loved ones or wanting to “go home”. I would like to mark their passing in some way, even if it’s a simple message to the family to say how much I enjoyed meeting them. They have come to mean something to me, they are not just “people with dementia”, and I would like people to know that.
What a job! I’m lucky to be doing this! And thankyou to the people who let me share these experiences with them.