Diane and Don
Bethany’s Music Therapy program is 100% funded by donations to Bethany Care Foundation. Diane and Don have been married for 50 years. Together they built a life full of the typical ups and downs that all families face. There were times of laughter, sadness, excitement, hope and love; a lifetime of memories, all coming together to form their unique story. Now, dementia has stolen most of the rich memories that made Diane the person she was. Nothing has taken away the love that Don and Diane’s family have for her, though, and Bethany has become a vital partner in their care of Diane and support of each other. Don wrote a note to accompany his 2017 Sensory Therapies donation in which he outlines just how meaningful the effects of programs like music therapy can be:
“…music can provide immeasurable positive experiences to almost every person in care. There is no other activity that can universally and unequivocally contribute so fundamentally to those basic needs for stimulations. I have the beautiful experience of sharing the program enabled by funds raised in this campaign with Diane, and hand dancing with her to the live music. This is the only recreational experience left to us, in which we can communicate in a meaningful manner. Observing responses she and all the residents demonstrate, as well as those of the family members and caregivers who participate in these heaven sent events, is a mind altering experience. Seeing the light return (even temporarily), to their eyes, watching them recognize and sometimes remember the words, and realizing that those words and memories bring them joy.”
Rev. Kathy R. Spate
Previous Manager, Spirituality and Pastoral Care Bethany Calgary
Bethany’s Pastoral Care program is 100% funded by donations to Bethany Care Foundation. “Memory loss, difficulty with thinking, problem solving, judgment and the ability to perform everyday activities are some of the symptoms experienced when one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Laura has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Laura is a resident in long term care, and I am her Chaplain. I walk with Laura as she takes me on a journey, a trip down the hallway. To her it is a trip to Edmonton. Along the way there are memories to be shared; people Laura knew, places Laura worked at, lived in, and shopped at. I listen to amazing stories that make sense only to Laura as she laughs, raises her voice in delight, or shakes her head in disgust. I am caught up in her renewed joy from the past. In the meantime we need to overcome numerous obstacles on our walk. To me they are carts, wheelchairs and tables. To Laura they are family members and friends she must introduce me to, a rough path we must cross over, and heavy traffic to navigate before arriving safely, in Edmonton. We both exclaim how weary we are when we do arrive but also how much fun it was to go on this journey together.
As Laura and I walk and talk on this afternoon, we overcome obstacles along the way, problem solve and share past joys. And it all takes place as we journey down a hallway, together. “
Opening Minds Through Art
Lori Deagnon, 81, is nearly blind, but once a week, when her brush hits the paper, she paints using the most vivid colours and her imagination, with help from a high school support volunteer.
Deagnon is one of eight residents at Bethany Airdrie participating in the Opening Minds through Art Program (OMA). OMA is an intergenerational art program for people with dementia, founded by Dr. Elizabeth Lokon in 2007 at Scripps Gerontology Centre at Miami University. OMA-trained Bethany employees run the program with volunteers from local high schools.The Bethany Care Foundation is grateful to the Telus Friendly Future Foundation for supporting the OMA program.
Art therapy and creative expression are known to significantly benefit the physical and psychological well-being of people with dementia.
Candice Melloy, a Recreation Therapist at Bethany Airdrie, took the program a few years ago through the Alzheimer Society of Calgary. For the next ten weeks, Melloy will help residents build relationships with the students from Bert Church High School in Airdrie as they work together to create art using their imaginations.
While OMA aims to give participants autonomy by empowering them to make decisions in a failure-free environment, students learn compassion and empathy. Bert Church High School teacher Mr.Ryan Jones said some of his students initially hesitated because they knew nothing about dementia. “After a couple of times with the residents at Bethany Airdrie though, they said how much they enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to return.”
And the residents look forward to seeing the students each week. “Their eyes light up,” Melloy says. “While supporting the residents, the students learn how to strategize to help their partners through struggles. It is a win-win.”
In addition to Bethany Airdrie, OMA programs have also been offered at other Bethany sites across Alberta, including Cochrane and Harvest Hills. They wrap up with a public gallery exhibition and silent auction celebrating the artists’ accomplishments. All proceeds go directly back to the program to purchase art supplies for future participants.
If you are interested in supporting the OMA project or other projects that benefit our residents, please donate here.
Music Therapy at Bethany
Music therapy supports individuals with dementia by creating opportunities for connection and reminiscence. Music can improve mood, relaxation and engagement, which enhances residents’ quality of life.
Thank you to Lisa and JB Music Therapy for all that you do. Bethany’s music therapy program is 100% funded by generous community donors!