Use music, dance and poems to connect to people living with Alzheimer’s Disease

Roseanne Burke, Dementia Care Consultant from Keji Consulting

Roseanne Burke (above), a Dementia Care Consultant from Keji Consulting, joined us for our November meeting.

Dementia is an umbrella term that includes Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dementia is a physical condition of the brain that changes everything over time.

It is not something a person can control and is different for every person.

It is very difficult for the person living with dementia, and it’s difficult for their family, but at our November meeting dementia care consultant Roseanne Burke, from Keji Consulting, talked about things we can do to help – even though there is no cure.

Slow down
Since vision and language are affected with dementia, caregivers should slow down, approach from the front and do not touch until you have connected visually and verbally.

Phrases to avoid
It is helpful to speak slowly and in simple sentences and avoid saying, “Remember I told you…” and asking “Who am I?”. Simplify questions Roseanne suggests avoiding open ended questions: instead frame your questions so they can be answered with a simple yes or no.

Connect with rhythm
The right temporal lobe functions are preserved with dementia, which means faculties involving rhythm remain intact. Singing, dancing, spirituality and poetry are great ways to connect with a person who has dementia.

To provide the best care possible for the person with dementia, care providers can learn about dementia and the symptoms, develop helpful communications and organizational skills, and build resources.

Care providers need to remember that it is important to take care of themselves. Don’t feel you are alone in trying to deal with this challenging condition. Know what resources are available, and don’t be afraid to use them. We list some in the panel on the right.

17,000 Nova Scotians live with dementia. Here are some resources, and ten warning signs to watch out for.

10 Warning Signs:
1. Memory loss affects day to day abilities
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3. Problems with language
4. Disorientation in time and space
5. Impaired judgement
6. Problems with abstract thinking
7. Misplace things
8. Changes in mood and behaviour
9. Changes in personality
10. Loss of initiative


Roseanne’s slides from her presentation at our November meeting are available to view/ download here: Breaking the Silence about Dementia

The Alzheimer Society of Canada produces information brochures and fact sheets on a wide variety of topics. They are available online, or you can order hard copies directly from The Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia by phone 902-422-7961 or toll free 1-800-611-6345, e-mail, or in-person.

The Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Public Libraries have partnered to provide a collection of books and videos on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. You can borrow these items from your local Public Library.

December Newsletter

Our December newsletter is now available! Click the cover image below to view or download.

  • Music and dance can help with dementia care
  • Patrick Ryall’s memories of John Diefenbaker
  • Grocery bus service needs helpers
  • The strange things that kids say
  • Upcoming events, local info and much more!