Friday, May 5, 2017

Sing it to me

illustration by ahna jin

I just delivered another script to Adam, the fellow I met on Fiverr who is doing the voiceover work for a series of instructional videos on caring for patients and families with advanced dementia at end of life.

This latest installment explores ways to connect with someone when their cognition is absent, or severely compromised.

We often fail to appreciate how normal cognitive interaction is no longer possible for someone with advanced dementia, like having a conversation based on questions and recollections.

Writing for TheAlzheimersSite, Elizabeth Nelson likewise details the consequences of our failure to adapt to the needs of those with dementia in its earlier stages.

I’m working with an artist to help inform the video’s content and convey the stories more effectively. We want the material to have the look and feel of a children’s book, to put people more at ease in the face of what can be an emotional and difficult topic. The image above is our attempt to express the idea of advanced dementia realistically, but also in a way that is less threatening or disturbing.

Singing is one reliable way to connect with someone who has advanced dementia, and for some reason when we do, we often reach for, “You are my sunshine.”

The melody can be soothing or spirited, but the lyrics are always heartbreaking. Here’s a version that really floored me.