The instant I walked off the elevator at a local hospital this week, I could hear Martha crying out from down the hall. “Help me! Won’t somebody please come help me? Oh God, please help me!” As I consulted with the Charge Nurse about which patients to see, it was obvious I would start my day with this elderly dementia patient.
Martha was extremely agitated when I entered her room. “Get that damned man out of my room”, she demanded as her nurse worked to secure bandages that Martha had pulled loose. The nurse tried to assure Martha that music might help her relax. Martha’s dementia continued to wreak havoc, for she suddenly took a swing at her nurse while cursing her. The nurse asked me to please keep playing in hopes that music might ultimately help Martha relax.
As I played, Martha seemed to accept the fact that I was staying and soon closed her eyes. She then drifted off to sleep, then awakened and cried out again. She repeated this scenario for 20 more minutes, until she finally drifted off into a deep sleep. After 40 minutes of live therapeutic music, Martha was finally at rest.
Martha’s nurse and aide were delighted, for they were now able to attend to other patients without having to listen to Martha’s cries filling the halls. After leaving Martha’s room, I worked with two more patients before taking lunch. After lunch, I checked on Martha and to my surprise, she was still asleep. I stopped in to see her one more time before leaving for the day, and incredibly – she was still asleep.
Sometimes, the best explanation of a session like this is also the most simple, Music Heals!