Over the past few weeks; Doogs and I have made an effort to spend twenty minute sessions with Lorrie. After meeting Lorrie’s granddaughter at a music festival; I felt it was easier to make a connection with Lorrie. Lorrie responds and reacts when we mention her granddaughter, it was our first hint that Lorrie still understands and connects with language.


Dougal is very intuitive with his movement pieces and has spent a lot of time working with Lorrie in mirroring and reestablishing human touch. These pieces are beautiful; hands reaching out, contact points moving simultaneously, recognition of each other in the space and those crazy moments when a leap is made! (Dougal normally yip yah’s in the air when these are discovered).


I play a very simple repetitive chord progression on the ukulele to set a tone and I try to sit in a space that does not encroach or feel crowded for whomever we are spending time with.


We incorporate sounds that Lorrie uses to communicate with and spend most of the experience encouraging eye contact and gentle touch.


Simple things like opening the windows and doors to allow sunshine and a fresh breeze also help to make connections. When we first met Lorrie she was very much in her own universe and we felt shy to intrude her space. As each week progresses we find more lucid conversations taking place – YES/NO, laughter and smiling when we are working together.

However, we never really made it outside of Lorrie’s room. So every session we would bring what we have to her for the first half and then create a similar atmosphere outside with the larger group. Bubbles, instruments, paints, electro swing music, glitter, bocce, dance, stretches, rhythm games, story telling, facial exercises, foot massages, parties, football games, light poys, juggling, improvisations, jokes, laughter, yahhoooos! Etc etc.


Yesterday when we arrived at Willow it was very quiet as most residents were at the activity room. We said good morning to Audrey (she really loves bright, sparkly jewelry and colourful gowns) and Mark (who last week for the first time in front of staff and Dougal and I, played a game of NRL with Dougal).  We noticed down the hallway that Lorrie had come out of her room and was in a cul de sac end of the corridor with sunlight and breeze. We went down and said hello. I began to play ukulele and Dougal danced with Lorrie.



It made a big impact on me about my perceptions of memory, lucidity and what constitutes reality.


Dougal is a champion – he made the leap weeks ago to make that first contact with Lorrie and now she is out and about interacting with us and other residents.

These changes are important to us – it gives us some measure of what our connection is offering.


Dougal and I do not come from a scientific understanding or even a medical understanding, we are coming from the heart – it is difficult sometimes to explain or articulate what impact community potentially has by spending time with our elders.

It is fact though, that people who live inside a space without sunshine or natural breeze and air, typically experience depression or feelings of isolation. So it is important regardless of what cognitive stage somebody is at to make sure that they have access to the outdoors. It refreshes the brain, the mind and the body. We notice an instant elevation in spirits when people are outside. 


I am excited to see what progresses next week....