Music To His Ears….What A Classic


I talked a few weeks back about a resident in the nursing home called ‘Barney’ who loves classical music. He had escalating behaviours but was able to be calmed by changing his environment with classical music.

Today at the nursing home every resident was unable to watch television due to building works and I believe the hot water was also affected. I decided to visit the home this afternoon to help with the residents as I thought they may be bored and need some extra lifestyle activities.

When I turned up the entire place was “angry” with residents protesting and demanding to know why they were in the building. Some refused to participate in activities until they were given a good reason why they were there, and were encouraging others to fire up. The lifestyle carer had no control of the group, as she was difficult to understand (due to her struggling with english) and was frustrated and appearing ‘snappy’ with residents. The residents could feel her tension and were reacting accordingly and began arguing . I took over some of the ladies and we played cards, and I whipped up a very simple game of ‘snap’.

Resident Barney looked lost and distant and was aimlessly walking in circles. I decided to once again change his environment and walked him back to his room. I knew he loved his music so I sat him in his comfy chair and asked him if he would like his favourite classical music played? He smiled and said “yes please”.

I then could not get his stereo to work and after several minutes was struggling to get any music to play. I was determined to get to the bottom of the problem. I pressed nearly every button with no success. In desperation I then wiggled the speaker wires and a short burst of sound was heard…SUCCESS! I re- set the wiring in the speakers and the music poured out.

Barney instantly closed his eyes…smiled…and said “isn’t Beethoven amazing?”. He shook my hand and I left him to his music. My big question is ” how long was his music system not working for?”. I would suspect days (if not weeks) as all the buttons were on with no sound coming out.

If music is Barney’s No. 1 passion, then as carers we need to be switched on to ensure that everything is in working order for him when it comes to his music. I could tell carers had tried to turn the music system on without success, but had given up. Did someone report it to maintenance or family members? Did anyone think that maybe Barney may no longer have music in his daily life until this is fixed?

These small things may seem insignificant at the time as it is not an ADL, but I want to highlight that televisions and music systems are often the most treasured possessions in people’s lives and we should ensure they come on each morning to set the right mood and tone for each day. This helps us care for them better…..

When the residents were angry and were demanding to know “why they were there” and “when they were going home”
I possibly answered the wrong way. I said ” you have been here several weeks now and this is your new home. You love it here”. This did not really calm them but perhaps gave them a further reason to argue.
After researching this situation it is suggested to say, “You have an apartment to stay here whenever you want. You are just staying with us until your _____ (insert ailing body part here) is healed.” ( or something similar eg. House is being painted.
The best way to tackle the ” I want to go home” situation is to FACE IT not evade it. Another example:
“We wanted to introduce you to some of the people here, so you could meet some new friends. You will be going home in a few days.
The above option would have been best on this occasion as I had multiple residents asking the same question at the same time. This probably would have worked best as I am a trusted face and the answer is possible and more plausible.
This dementia stuff is not easy!….

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