Today I was at Loyalton, in Hagerstown, Maryland, in the Memory Care Unit. At first several residents were apprehensive not knowing what to expect with a big guy sitting on a stool with a guitar. The change of scenery seemed to threaten them.They seemed a little frightened.
The care givers were still trying to finish up taking the blood pressure of a few residents and a couple of residents weren’t cooperating. Their behavior seemed a little agitated. The nurses were very patient, and loving calmed them. They worked with such kindness and were so gentle.
I thought, “What a hard job they must have.”
Then I wondered , “How will I ever get this group’s attention?”
The smallest distraction seems applified.
Then it was time to start. All eyes were on me. I felt like a parrot, perched on a stool.
Then the twelve string guitar seemed to take over.I played “Jesus Loves Me” through once and sang lightly. They reacted immediately.
“Now who wants to sing with me? “Again there was everything from blank stares to attempts to communicate with such as nods, shrills cries and applaud.I then recited each line of “Jesus Loves Me”, telling them the words, one line at a time.
“ Jesus Loves Me this I Know” Then they joined in as we sang one line at a time“Jesus Loves Me this I know”.Their expressions changed as they chimed in. It almost startled them when they heard themselves sing the words. It was like watching a child learn to talk . A few minutes later they sat expectantly waiting for the next song.One line at a time again I would say the words and then everyone would join and sing together.
“I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart”
“I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart”
The joy of the moment started to show in their smiles. They were singing together.They were worshiping together.
It dawned on me that they couldn’t read or remember the words but after hearing me say the words a line at a time they sang them back to me with melody. It was as as though the melody wasflowing from their very innermost being. We were connecting with God and each other. We were indeed worshiping. It was amazing to hear and watch as their expressions as they changed from blanks and frowns to happiness.
Sometimes one or two stroke victims would slur their words from their partial paralysis but the melody was with the rhythm and to them they were singing and worshiping again. In my opinion there is no greater therapy.
So many werethe moments and services in the pastI had entertained them by singing to them. I remembered wondering if they were getting it. The blank stares seem so empty. Today I realize something great, “They wanted to sing again and they were singing. To me they sounded like Heaven’s Choir.
Forty five minutes had passed and we sang “In the Garden”,” No one ever cared for me like Jesus”, “In the Sweet By and By” and the list goes on and on.
Today we had our weekly Bible study in the Assisted Living Section of Loyalton in addition to the weekly Song Servicein the Memory Care Section.
Wednesdays are filling up. Next week on Wednesday we will have four services in one day. Two in Memory Care Services,(at Loyalton and Avalon Manor) One Bible Study (Loyalton) ,and a Worship service (Avalon Manor).
This in addition to the many shut-ins that we will visit this week is what makes this ministry so rewarding. Thanks for your prayers and support.Pastor Richard
This story really touched my heart. I am a nurse in the alzheimer’s unit. Our patients are very speacial and music really helps them come alive. I often find myself singing to them the way I sang to my daddy before he made his journey Home. Our favorite “I’ll Fly Away”.