Playlist for life

By HBH - 12 March 2017

Playlist for life

Hi there, my name is Jo.

My mum Wendy has had dementia now for 11 years. Music has always been Mum’s “thing”. As a child and young adult Mum loved to dance. In fact Mum was one of Auckland’s top ballerinas performing in big shows in the Auckland Town Hall. My brother and I have the most wonderful memories of Mum blasting her favourite records and dancing with us throughout the house.

Mum tried to get me into dancing but unfortunately I didn’t inherit her twinkle toes. Instead I sang.  It was as much Mum’s hobby as my own.  We would travel all over the North Island to competitions, enjoying listening to and meeting other music lovers.

As Mum started getting sick she lost interest in books, television and movies. My son and I started singing regularly for Mum and other the residents at her previous rest home. Mum would be up dancing from start to finish.

Sadly Mum has declined greatly in the last year or so. No longer able to walk or talk, we were really wanting to bring Mum joy in some way. The beautiful Occupational Therapist at HBH Senior Living introduced us to Playlist for Life. Knowing how much Mum loved music, Carol suggested giving it a go. Over the holidays my husband and I sat at the computer and created a playlist from the songs I remember Mum listening to during my childhood. I was so excited to give Mum her very own personal playlist. I popped on the headphones and as soon as the music started Mum was beaming!  She even tried to talk!  Mum reached out to hold my hand. Her response was priceless. As the music played on Mum started to weep, I popped an ear to her headphones to hear a song from Swan Lake. Mum was taken back to her hey-day as a young ballerina. I was so moved to see her so connected I couldn’t help shedding a few happy tears myself.

The staff at HBH Senior Living’s Hospital have been amazing at recharging Mum’s iPod mini and popping on the headphones for her to enjoy all her favourite tunes. I wish I had done this years ago and I’m so thankful to Carol for suggesting it.

If you have the time, I highly recommend giving this a go.

“Music is what feelings sound like.”

Lisa Waldren