Do you work with seniors who have end-stage (or advanced) Alzheimer’s? Have you found it challenging to connect to them in a meaningful way? It can be difficult without knowing something about what they used to enjoy. Below is a story of Eugenia, a senior who was 100 years old and was told that she didn’t need a volunteer. Not only did she have an advanced case of Alzheimer’s, she was partially blind and had hearing difficulties.
A volunteer coordinator decided to place a volunteer with Eugenia every day of the week. Each day volunteers read to her. Volunteers also oriented Eugenia to her surroundings and the time. Week after week, Eugenia continued to be unaware of the companionship she was receiving. But one day, a young volunteer sang his university’s fight song. Then it happened- Eugenia’s feet began to tap. She bobbed her head and lifted her eyes. With all eyes on Eugenia, she looked up and spread her lips and smiled.
It took time and patience. It took finding what Eugenia needed to connect to the outside world. Her smile meant so much to those volunteers- they had finally made a connection. What she needed was music!