The patients in the Alzheimer’s ward were seated in a circle, staring into space. I had come to engage them in their weekly singalong, which I assumed had more effect on the health-care aides than on the patients.
We sang old patriotic songs, which sometimes brought smiles to their faces. I ended with their favorite, the rousing “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” As I was packing to leave, an aide announced, “Everyone, please be quiet. Miss Betty would like to say something.”
A woman who had never said a word, stood up, straightened her shoulders and began: “I want to thank all of my fellow graduates for coming here today. We have had four wonderful years together, but now must go out into the world. ...”
The music had prompted her to give her graduation address.
The aides were teary-eyed, and I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had jumped to the wrong conclusion. Although Miss Betty had never exhibited any signs of recognition, our singalongs had taken her back to a wonderful place.
I never again thought that I was leading singing sessions for people who didn’t care. I couldn’t tell from their behavior that these songs were affecting them. But now I knew that this music could take them back to happier times.
Beverly Morrone Haller,
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