Tag Archives: Dementia

Inspiration

April 25 – May 23

Back today to the dementia care home where I’ve been playing for elderly people since 2014. Between today and my last visit on April 25, I gave three very different performances: the Requiem of Jenkins in the concert hall in Middelburg with orchestra, choir and soloist ; the musical show “Fureidesu” with the storyteller Gerard Jellema in Rotterdam, and the opening of the exhibition “Les Petites Peurs” by S.P.A.M. van Griensven also in Rotterdam. Different places, different audiences, different ways of listening, different ways of playing. And here I am today, back in Nijmegen for my monthly visit to the elderly people cuddling their Teddy bears, playing with toys and desperately roaming in the corridors trying to find their way home.

What a difference.

What am I going to play today?

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Young people with dementia, 2014

One reason I started this blog is to write about my visits to people with dementia, visits I started in April 2014. Playing shakuhachi for them is a strong and inspiring experience. From the very first day, I felt the urge to write about it, to talk about them. And I started to collect stories.
Although I mainly play for old people, I sometimes visit another building where the “young people” live. Quite a shock to realise that some of them are around my age. I only knew Alzheimer’s disease as the most common cause of dementia. With my visits to the Young people, I discovered Pick’s disease, a disease where symptoms begin in people between the ages of 40 and 60. Different age, different behaviour, different stories.
Here is a text I wrote in October 2014.

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Iris, March 2017

Monthly visit at the dementia care home

From my audience in the department called “Iris”, two people passed away. One of them was Mrs Kisses. She was 90. I’m happy to have met her, to have had time to write a few lines about her, and to remember her thanks to the nickname I gave her, which instantly brings back memories, which her real name doesn’t. I won’t forget her kisses.

Sakura Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)

It was a grey rainy day so I decided to play the song Sakura Sakura, with all kind of variations and introductions, to bring some Spring feeling to the patients. That was much appreciated. It feels good to see that the seasons still mean something to the patients, even though most of them don’t go outside anymore.

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De Brug, February 14, 2017

In the dementia care home where I regularly play shakuhachi,”De Brug”, The Bridge, is the first department of the closed area. The people I see there walking around have still a foot in the outside life and the other foot… well, it looks like they don’t exactly know where they are. They are still looking for their husband or wife, wanting to go back home to prepare dinner, worrying about their mother to visit or their children to pick up at school. One woman asks us today where the busstop is to go to the city center. When she realises she doesn’t have money to pay her ticket, she doesn’t know what to do anymore. She eventually goes back to her bedroom. They don’t always remember where their bedroom is. They don’t feel home.

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