Hope is stronger
25th Jul

Why We Do What We Do

We understand the stress related to the constant negative events happening around the world and within our industry, and that’s why our therapists Live Our Values everyday, striving to make a positive difference in the lives we touch through therapy. When the below story came in from one of our facilities, it brightened our days and our hearts, so we wanted to share it with everyone in hopes it would do the same.

A story of hope

“After 43 years, I was recently reminded why I am still providing therapy services. I was also reminded how as therapists providing services in all the small buildings around the country, sometimes we have the opportunity to see magic that is different than in bigger rehab facilities. Here is my story.

Last year, one of the Sisters was referred to our facility and therapy due to her significant, rapid decline in self-care after being diagnosed with micro-ischemic dementia. A member of the leadership for the Dominican order, she was a vital, active woman and during her career, had traveled around the world fulfilling her mission. One day, during a therapy session, she told me through tears that what bothered her most about her illness were the things that would be lost along with her memory. She proceeded to share with me a specific Irish song that she had learned years prior traveling in Ireland.

Months later, Sister had completed therapy, but it came to my attention that she was declining in other ways and appeared very depressed. I decided that maybe the song she had shared with me would help her, so I began my search. Through another Sister, I found the names of several Irish composers, and after searching the internet, I found a link to connect with one of the Irish composers directly via email. I reached out, explaining the situation and provided the first few words of the song. It just so happened he not only recognized it, but he was the composer of it. God was on my side! When I explained in more detail why I was looking for it, he sent me the music and lyrics, as well as a live recording of the song made 25 years earlier in Ireland.

When I played it for the Sister, she was very happy to have it, but did not want to keep it because she thought she would lose it, so I kept it and played it for her occasionally. It would be a good story if it ended there. But it does not. Sister’s disease continued to progress. She spent most of her time in bed because her aphasia made it nearly impossible to interact with others. She had difficulty feeding herself, and became increasingly isolated and withdrawn. Her affect was becoming very flat and she responded with one word to questions, and it was often the wrong word. I decided that it was worth trying to reach out by singing, as I knew this had always been a passion of hers. Always loving a challenge, I decided to try.

The first day, I wrote out the words of the song so it would be easy to read and together, we sang the song.” While Sister missed most of the words, she carried the tune beautifully, and she smiled for the first time in a long time. The next day we did it again, and the staff called me right away, asking, “What did you do? She is speaking to us!””On the third day, she was sitting up on the edge of her bed with her paper with the words on it, waiting for me when I entered her room. These days, she comes to my office at our usual time to sing each morning. She still struggles with the words some, but has improved significantly. She became distressed on weekends when I was not there, so I added another Sister to our little group and they sing without me on weekends. She has gotten so much positive feedback because her beautiful voice can be heard through the halls, and she just beams! Her speech has improved so much that she is joking with people and initiating interactions. She is still aphasic,  but she has found that she can talk to people. She is back to feeding herself with set-up and recently went on an outing with the group. This began as therapy for a Sister, but has ended up being therapy for me and the rest of the Sisters who love her. I look forward to singing every morning. Even though Sister is no longer on therapy caseload, she still comes like clockwork every morning to sing!

We know there are Miracles around us all the time. Sometimes we just need to help them along!”

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