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Dementia Care - Sing their Song = Make a Connection
Submitted by Dee Mayfield CDP of Certified Dementia Practitioner of Mayfield Health Care Seminars

Size of Group: One to One communication through song

Equipment/Supplies Needed: knowledge of WHAT song(s) engage the individual - and willingness to sing and re-sing to maintain engagement with individuals.

Activity/Treatment Objective or Expected Outcome: To make connection and truly engage someone in later stages of various dementia;

Description of the Activity: Singing can be a segue to assisting with personal care activities such as washing or dressing, or a prelude to eating; or it can be an activity in and of itself to momentarily bring someone from their isolation to shared time with another human being.

To use this approach it is important to know the individual - and what songs have meaning for them. During the earlier stages of any disease that causes dementia, it is important that we "practice" this intervention and create a list of what songs have positive meanings for each individual for whom we partner with to provide care.



Djembe Drumming, rhythmic patterns and folklore songs
submitted by Ms. Khemya MitRahina of Pan Afrakan Dance and Music Historical Ed. Association on February 1, 2007

Size of Group: 5-10

Equipment: Djembe drums, percussive instruments, shekere's, sticks, hand drums, etc.

Objective: To teach basic rhythmic patterns with a drum language to children, 5-16 in a group setting, natural environment. Objective to teach community interactions, social skills of working together, enhance a greater internal healing vibration, work with self-esteem and leadership skills.

Outcome: To increase the level of proficiency in the youth and children in regards to their family life, education and schools, and community environment. To teach respect of self, community and environment, and moral and principles as a guideline of discipline, concentration and focus. To greater engage the student in high frequency learning and concentration skills, so they may better adapt to school settings, and educational testing, as well as high achievements in their school setting.

Description: Gather the group of students and give drums, instruments and percussions to all.. Instruct proper hand techniques, sitting and holding or placement of drums. Teach breathing exercises, as well as history of drum, and its purpose in community. Begin with basic rhythmic patterns, utilizing right and left brain integration. Incorporate folk song, singing, chanting, drum language.

Ed Note: There are many resources on the Internet in regards to drumming. If you don't have drums and rhythm instruments and don't have the knowledge and skills to run a drumming group consider calling someone in your community that can run a drumming group at your facility. Drumming can be done by people of all ages.


submitted by Iris Anderson of I.D.E.A. Consulting Service on September 24, 2008

Size of Group: 1-100

Equipment: stereo, Music CD, song sheet

Objective: Resident enjoyment for a group or 1-1

Description: I have developed matching large print books and cd's Golden Oldies, Hymns, Carols and an exercise cd

For more information please visit

The Song Board
Submitted by Atara Engel; TR Student, Concordia University on September 01, 2004

Size: Up to 10 children, ages 1-6

Equipment: The materials needed for this activity may take some time to create: a felt/Velcro board, objects/people/animals made out of felt. Objects or animals should correspond to a popular children's song. For example, a farmer and several animals should be created out of felt for the song ""Old Macdonald had a farm."" Monkeys etc can be created for ""Five little monkeys jumping on the bed"" and so on.

Objective: The goal of this program is for clients to gain awareness of the objects or animals being used in the story/song [each one can be discussed individually and each ""character"" in the song can be introduced]. Clients also gain awareness of animal sounds, shapes and colors, music and rhythm and sequencing concepts. The kids usually respond well to the visual representation of music they are familiar with and like to add their own spin on each character.

Description: The felt/Velcro board will stand in front of the children seated on the floor or on chairs. One animal or object will be handed out to each child present. The clients and TRS will sing the song corresponding to the objects used. Using ""Old MacDonald had a farm"" as an example, the child holding the animal named in the song will have to come up to the board [this may need some facilitation, depending on the client] and stick on their animal wherever they choose, then making the appropriate animal sounds. This activity can also be done without music, such as telling a story as a group using the felt board and appropriate pieces. For example, telling the story of the three little pigs and having children take turns playing felt characters corresponding to the story.

Musical Play with Body Awareness
submitted by Melissa Cook of Center for the Disabled on December 31, 2003

Size: 2-8

Equipment: Variety of music, variety of instruments

Objective: Incorporating musical play while helping individuals with disabilities become more familiar with their bodies/body awareness.

Description: While playing instruments, having participants play in a variety of areas, including over the head, behind the head, over shoulders, in front of their bodies, in front of their knees, down by their feet, etc. Sometimes with the disabled population, they are unaware of their bodies in space and many times cannot distinguish between body parts. With instrument play while incorporating body parts, participants can feel successful in making music while becoming more familiar with their own body parts.

"The Sinatra Hour"
submitted by Joe Mondano of Metropolitan Adult Day Health Center on December 8, 2001

Size: 12 - 15

Equipment: Audio equipment, appropriate period music, chairs set in a circle.

Objective: Reminisce to stimulate cognizance.

Description: (Really an half hour activity) Circle the group and play period piece music, beginning with a half hour of Frank Sinatra songs, pausing between them to discuss the clients recall of the songs. Encourage singing along by singing along, and encourage as a client discussion about the entertainer.

Then as you use this activity again, introduce "special guests".

Great choices for "special guests" are Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Perry Como, Andy Williams. Here too, discussion is important such as asking the group, "Who was once Dean Martin's partner?"

Follow you, Follow me
submitted by Mindy Fulk of Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan on Friday, June 1, 2001

Size: 2 - 10

Equipment: Small percussion Musical Instruments, drum sticks, maracas, tambourines, etc.

1. Increase attention
2. Increase mental flexibility
3. Increase short-term memory
4. Increase participation in group activities

Description: Everyone gets an instrument. Chose someone to lead the activity that is comfortable with using percussion instruments. The leader plays a simple rhythm (start with 2-3 beats) and the group plays it back together. You can increase the complexity of rhythms and number of beats as the activity progresses.

a)Some patients may also like to lead the activity.
b)You can make this competitive and give a reward to the 'last person standing'. To do this, every time a person plays the rhythm incorrectly, they are out of the game. The leader should increase the speed and complexity of the rhythms.
c)Have the leader play to one person at a time, that person plays the rhythm back, then the next, then the next, and so on.


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