Our mom loved music. Her father was a fiddle player, and Mom grew up going to country dances. When Mom was in care, musicians would come to play one night a week at the facility where she lived. However, they performed in the main part of the building where Mom couldn’t go on her own. Since music is such an important part of Mom’s life, we hired a companion service to attend with her so that she could dance and participate in experiences that brought her happiness. Beyond the joy that the music brought her, Mom also made many friends in her greater community because of her attendance.
As time went by I began to think about bringing small drums and other percussion instruments such as bells, triangles and tambourines along on a visit. While neither of us were musicians, I knew we could make music with simple instruments. I had learned from prior visits that Mom’s roommates were curious when something was happening. No matter what Mom and I were doing, someone else would come along and want to see and/or participate so it was important to bring enough things to be inclusive. While I wanted Mom to be able to interact with me and things that interested her, I didn’t want to exclude others either.
I’ve got to digress from my drums plan for a moment to talk about the importance of demonstrating true and genuine caring for Mom’s roommates in her presence. Your mood and how you treat your loved one and their roommates tells your loved one more than you know – and it affects their behaviours towards the people they live with. Showing kindness and compassion to everyone in their realm demonstrates that it’s okay to be there and to be just as they are. Actions speak acceptance more than words do.
I was always looking for something that Mom would both enjoy and be able to manage. I believed musical instruments would provide her with two things she loved – the sounds of music and the tactile experience of touching. An additional bonus would be enjoying the company of others while exploring the playing of the instruments.
I would encourage you to think about your objectives as you plan your visits by considering these questions: what is it you want to achieve while you visit your loved one? What has brought them joy in the past, and how can you bring that into their life now?
I believe that engaging in activities, and being involved and included in a community are important aspects of our well-being. If you are a personal directive agent or a family member, remember that identifying activities that have histor
ically provided the individual in care with enjoyment is a great start to identifying what activities and experiences you want to recreate. Understanding the root of what brings pleasure will help you expand or adapt the activities as the individual’s abilities change.
Now, if you are lucky enough to be in the planning phases instead of the experiential phase of incapacity, take the time to explore the Personal Directive Agent Workbook.
The Personal Directive Agent Workbook has been designed to support you (the Estate Planner) and your Personal Directive Agent in planning for future incapacity. The Personal Directive (a legal document) comes into effect when the Estate Planner is no longer able to take care of his or her own affairs.
Assigning a Personal Directive Agent is a legal activity in which the Estate Planner appoints someone to act on their behalf should they become mentally or physically incapacitated.
The Personal Directive form outlines which activities can be undertaken on the Planner’s behalf; however, this document does not cover all the detail the Personal Directive Agent will need to ensure wishes are carried out appropriately and the planner’s well-being is attended to.
The Personal Directive Agent Workbook walks Planners and Personal Directive Agents through a series of considerations that will help ensure a mutual understanding of what is important.