Driving across America is a savored and favorite memory for many elderly folks. We know that reminiscing can be a delightful way to engage people with dementia. Hollis was inspired by their stories over and over again when they worked as a CNA in a facility in Central PA. When Hollis would share their wanderlust ideas the residents would smile and say, “Before you travel…
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Hollis had a suspicion that this woman was cognitive, at least at this moment. Hollis also had a suspicion that this woman had experienced hallucinations in the past and might be looking to confirm she wasn’t hallucinating. Hollis approaches but doesn’t stop her from touching Bright Hawk.
As the group grows in size the positive energy is increased and more people are singing. Often in these later moments, we will see people living with aphasia, singing with us, singing with the group, a simple word. Singing “Love” – over and over with both of us, and the entire group, encouraging each other. The room always changes after that song, like turning on the wake-up switch!
Activities are essential for residents and at Let’s Dance we know that as a Director you know exactly what your residents need! First, we want to say that we know you do things like Hollis did in this story all the time. We know that YOU, as a director, can make someone’s day and help them smile. Without YOU the residents would faller deeper into depression than they already do. We know that your work can sometimes go unseen but we want you to know, that we SEE YOU! Let’s Dance wants to honor every Activity Director!
He glared at Hollis with flaring nostrils as if Hollis had just thrown salt on an old wound. “I don’t deserve to be part of that circle.” He said it with such discipline and sternness Hollis was almost taken aback but felt deep compassion for that man at the moment. Hollis is very well educated on gang tattoos, gang life and the general vibration of this community and has sometimes even contemplated working with prison populations. Hollis glared back with just as much passion, knowledge and sternness in their convictions and stated the truth.
As I squatted in front of her I begged for the answer, “What is the meaning of Life?” I looked her in her eyes and she said,
Some vibrations they could ‘hear’ in a different way, even ‘feel’ in a different way. The woman was clearly moved and Hollis continued to engage the group.
One of the first things that is affected by dementia is the ability to smell, and Margaret surely suffered in this way. The regular CNAs knew that it was best to catch her already in her room and then offer her the underclothing while she was on the toilet, otherwise she might just deck you. We knew it was best to suggest that she might want to use the bathroom and hope she could piece together your words.
Each time in the circle she would tear up when Bright Hawk would talk about Hawaii. When Hollis would lean in to invite her to dance, she would happily join in on the hula dance we do for the Hawaii story. She would smile big and each time she would say the same thing, “Ohhh I remember doing the hula with my husband on our honeymoon!”