Friday, September 14, 2012

No Time for Guitar

Today, I went to visit someone who seemed to be a bit of crisis. She has dementia, so she get confused. This is a common symptom in any dementia diagnosis and can result in a number of behaviors. Sometimes, people are quite happy with their situation. I call these people "pleasantly confused" in my documentation. Sometimes, however, they get to be very anxious. Imagine yourself in a place you don't know, surrounded by people you don't recognize, and you have no idea how to leave. I think that would definitely make me anxious. Usually, I find the best thing to do in this situation is refocus their attention or just distract them long enough to "reset" their emotions. This brings me to my client today.

When I arrived, she was sitting in the common area. The client was really tearful, crying out, and working herself into frenzy. She had a CNA next to her, trying to calm her down, and looking rather exasperated herself. I offered to sit with her and, before I could even get my guitar out, the client grabbed my hands and I could not get loose. The CNA turned to me and said, "She's got quite a grip today." Occasionally, this will happen and I've learned to "roll with the punches." I started to sing and she initially stopped to listen. It didn't take long, though, for her to get back to crying. I realized that if I sang 2 or 3 songs and alternated between them quickly, I could keep her attention. I sang "Shenandoah", "Amazing Grace", and "Red River Valley" while alternating verses. It was really comforting to see her really start to settle down

When I left, she was sitting calmly in her wheel chair. The facility staff came to get her for lunch and said, "I don't know what you did and I don't know how long it will last but thank you!" It's nice to see some very observable signs that what I'm doing helps so quickly and drastically sometimes!


  1. Hey Man, I'm an Accredited MT in Ontario working in Hospices as well. I heard about you from Kevin Qualls, I have him on my soundcloud. I just wanted to let you know the work you do is great and so needed in the community.

  2. Hi Bryan, 2018 here, just stopping in to catch up with you. Wow, I desperately hope the background image is of a part of your vinyl collection. Hero. Tell me this represents you and not just some ultra hip stock photo you got from blogspot.