As I mentioned in an earlier Blog, my Mom is residing in an Assisted Living Facility.
It is unique and wonderful place for her where she is thriving the best she can. It is set up in an actual house that 5 other residents also call home. It is staffed by 2 nurses a 24/7, and the nurses take loving care of their charges.
It is spotless.
Mom is always clean and looking great when I go to visit.
I know part of the reason my Mom is doing so well is because when you walk into this facility it really does NOT feel like a nursing home at all. It’s not an institutional type environment.
It’s not scary.
It smells good.
Actually, it smells great!
Like delicious cuban food and spices.
Comforting and welcoming.
There is a chain of four locations owned by the same family. Once a month I play my sax, sing and entertain the residents at all the sites. This is always a blast and I never quite know what’s going to happen when I show up. Some residents will just sit and listen but I always have special ones who come to life and will jump up and start dancing with their wakers and canes. From looking at them before the music starts you wouldn’t think they’d have much zip in their steps , but then BAM!
The music brings them to life.
Before my eyes I see 40, 50, even 60 years melt away and in a few minutes they are smiling, tapping their feet.
Some are up and moving around like they just had 5 cafe con leche’s 🙂
Sometimes they sing along even though they don’t know the words. It’s such a hoot to watch them focus in on my mouth and lips as they try to catch the words I am singing. It’s a race to stay up with the beat and in time.
The real fun is going from a standard like “Misty” to “Uptown Funk.” They LOVE all the new music I play just as much as the songs the are more familiar with.
There is one location where the residents are the most aware and are “with it” (if you will.)
They are highly functioning and sometimes when I go to play music for them I am always amazed at their vitality and pure love they give to me.
Being an entertainer, my hope is to always move and uplift my audience wherever I am. That can be a challenge sometimes in these situations because your audience at an ALF can have dementia and/or be medicated to varying degrees.
One of the hard parts about playing music for my own Mom is that she is sometimes in the “here and in now” with me and the very next second her mind is off to some other place.
A lot of times while I am playing my sax or singing, she will just start asking question after question without stopping. She gets lost in some other scenario going on in her mind. It can be frustrating for her and me.
With that being said I’m leading to this……
The Lady in the video at the top of the page dancing with me, having fun and being silly is 96 years young!!
Can you believe it??!! 96!!!
She is an amazing spirit and so full of energy! She always gets up and dances and sings with me and entertains her fellow residents as well!
She reminds me of what my Mom was like before she got confused and the dementia started to set in.
My dancing partner not only has all this energy to join me on the dance floor but then she she always insists on helping me load my equipment out to the front door when I am leaving! She carries my sax, speakers and laptop case!!! She and her housemates always ask about my Mom and are so loving to me.
This lady dancing with me and her housemates are amazing!
One other thing you should know….they all only speak Spanish!
I have learned some Spanish phrases so I can communicate with them but it is always a riot as we act out what we are trying to tell each other like a game of ” International Charades.”.
We laugh so much, and when I leave I always feel lighter.
I realized over time that the laughter,music and fun we share help me to accept what’s going on with Mom.
Sometimes I feel like the smiles and joy they give me back is God’s way of saying…
“This is what your Mom would do if she was still able to.”
So I take it as blessing and keep taking one day at a time.
As I leave I also think to myself….”That’s exactly how I want to be when I am 96!”