Finbar has Alzheimer’s disease and recently his symptoms appear to have been much more obvious, which is concerning to us. I’m no expert on Alzheimer’s, but I do know that it’s a progressive disease of the brain and one day, it will take him from us, but I have no experience of how that happens, or what it will look like come the time.
On this one morning, Finbar was asleep. Not stirring, not blinking, but lying very still in bed and breathing very shallow breaths. I spoke to him gently and and called his name softly, but there was no response. I reached out and touched his shoulder and again called his name, but still he lay there, motionless. I gave his shoulder a gentle rock, still calling out “Finbar, it’s time to wake up” but there was still no sign of stirring. I was beginning to worry now, I was starting to think that, “was this it!” Is this how it looks at the end? One day awake and the next day unable to wake up? I began to speak to him a little louder and rock him with just a little more urgency, but still there was nothing coming back. Still no blinking and still no stirring!
I took a step back to consider my next step. Wherever Finbar is, he’s stuck. What I need is for something to reach in to Finbar’s world and pull him back into the here and now.
I knew that music was a powerful memory inducer and I also knew that hearing was often said to be the last sense to go, so I started thinking about what I could do. I remembered the previous weekend when we had put Finbar’s Cliff Richard CD on whilst he got up and smiled when I recalled how happy he had been, wailing away to Cliff as he shimmied around his flat.
“Right! Where’s Cliff” I thought. I had a look in the CD player but it wasn’t there, so I looked in the little wooden box where Finbar kept all his treasures, and there was Cliff. I put him in the player, turned it on and started it playing the first track. Then I turned and walked back to Finbar’s bed and as the introduction finished and Cliff’s voice filled the room, I noticed Finbar was beginning to blink, and just a moment or two later, Finbar began to stir.
By the time I had got back to his bedside, his eyes had managed to blink themselves open and Finbar was looking up at me!
Almost overcome with relief, I tried to hide my emotions.
“Good morning Finbar” I said and signed, “it’s Mandy today” pointing at myself. A smile appeared on his face and he lifted his head and said “good morning Mandy, is it Tuesday today?”
I doubt that Sir Cliff will ever know the impact his music had that day, but I have to confess that since that day, I have found myself liking Cliff just a little bit more than I used to.
The person’s name in this blog has been changed
Senior Support Worker/ Dementia Special Interest Group Member
Please find below a link to the new film from the Dementia Special Interest Group (DSIG):
The next DSIG meeting is on 7th October in Milton Keynes – if you are interested in attending please contact sarah.nicholson@macintyrecharity to book on. We would love to see you there.