DEMENTIA AND THE COMFORT OF FAMILIAR WORDS

After Vera first entered the nursing home her daughter’s visit revolved around her mother’s physical progress. Vera had a debilitating stroke and was making very slow progress. It became apparent that Vera would always require the care provided by 24 hour caregivers. So now her daughter’s focus shifted to the quality of her weekly visits.

The daughter brought favorite food items, books to read together, and her Mom’s request – her hymn book. The nursing staff got used to hearing the mother and daughter singing together on Sunday afternoons.  As the years went by Vera was declining in so many ways. Those times together changed as Vera could no longer follow social conversations or books read to her.

But those hymns, those words sung so many times over so many years, those words remained and gave comfort. At the end of Vera’s life she was almost blind, hadn’t walked in the 14 years she spent in the nursing community, and she was confused most of the time as to where she was and what was going on around her. Yet, hearing those so familiar words gave comfort and yes gave joy.

For Vera, this Thanksgiving:

Come, ye thankful people, come – raise the song of Harvest home, – All be safely gathered in, –  Ere the winter storms begin, –  God, our maker, doth provide, – For our wants to be supplied, – Come to God’s own temple come, – Raise the song of Harvest home.

If you no longer have your Vera to read comforting words to, you can find a Vera in your neighborhood nursing home. Volunteer to read.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing