This memory returns as I observe the current need for soothing modalities of caregiving for elderly dementia patients as well as for people in the crisis of grieving the loss of loved ones.
Thirty years ago, in the metropolis of New York City, I stood awestruck as I listened to parents and caregivers of many cultural backgrounds singing their children to sleep with lullabies. I realized then that they also wanted permission to relax and connect with their loved ones. As important as putting the child to sleep was the communication it encouraged. I witnessed not only a repertory of stories, songs and images, but also gestures, routines and human interaction. I collected not just music, but a multitude of intimate experiences as adults and children learned from and healed each other.
Recently, the Boston Globe published the results of an investigation on overuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. An Albany Times Union staff health reporter Cathleen F. Crowley wrote “Too many pills, too high a risk” about this report. She noted that “CMS, the federal agency in charge of Medicare and Medicaid, has launched a nationwide effort to reduce the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes.”
Crowley also interviewed Richard Mollot, executive director of Long Term Care Community Coalition, a New York City-based watchdog group, who is quoted as follows: “There are ways to do it (i.e. reduce the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes). It’s called good dementia care.”
How do you give, find and get good dementia care? Crowley’s article suggests increasing staff (not necessarily RNs), as well as introducing less dangerous drugs and complementary therapies like aromatherapy, music and massage to comfort residents with behavior problems. In my book, As Long as You Sing, I’ll Dance: The bond not the burden – the blessing of reciprocal caregiving, I introduce a new, non-chemical modality of soothing agitated patients.
Christine Knowles who has worked in the field of Psychiatric Nursing and Human Services for over 25 years, wrote in the “Introduction” about how I propose to give, find, and get good dementia care: “When those we love lose the very cognitive principal that animates us and sets us apart as humans we realize we possess another skill, a most divine gift within us – the power to comfort and soothe. In As Long as You Sing, I’ll Dance, Julia Soto Lebentritt enlightens us on this deep and almost mystical ability to comfort others. Her book is part history, part healthcare, part training manual and a comprehensive instruction on how to help heal our own hearts while caretaking others.”
As Long as You Sing, I’ll Dance is a tapestry of stories, illustrations, and creative arts activities that demonstrate both the power of the human voice to calm the agitated mind. “That voice is described” Knowles adds, “through Julia’s fascinating analysis of lullabies. She explores their association with communicating to the distressed whether a tiny baby crying or a confused elderly dementia patient. We see how the lullaby has come full circle. As Long as You Sing, I’ll Dance details that evolution and how we can use it to impact the lives of our loved ones stricken with dementia as well as our selves, worn-out and down by the burden of caretaking.”
Every human being today is aware of the increasing role of caregiving in our lives. This book is a necessary tool as well as a great triumph of the voice of the people who contributed.
Available at www.amazon.com and www.reciprocalcare.com
Link to C. Crowley’s article: http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/Too-many-pills-too-high-a-risk-3530455.php