‘I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places that this heart of mine embraces all day through’*
As part of the generation who has not witnessed nor experienced a World War, it may be difficult to understand how those who had lived and felt during this time. As we approach Remembrance Day in Canada on November 11th, let US remember their sensitivities.
As a Recreation Manager programming to the needs of seniors in long-term care, I must admit that this was one of the most difficult times for the Residents and staff.
From the men who ventured towards Europe, many of whom were young, to the men who left wives and children, to the war bride who met and married our servicemen, to the immigrants who experienced the war overseas, their memories and reactions to the ceremonies are very real.
Through my years of programming special, yet subdued activities, I was able to gain a better understanding of their reality between the years of 1939 and 1945. There are some seniors who take this opportunity to speak about their lives, and there are just as many of those who do not wish to revisit their own memories.
Our job not only as recreation, but also as people, is to listen, empathize, and even wipe their tears.
Music released during the war years, such as; We’ll meet again or There will be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of Dover by Vera Lynn, can generate a wide berth of emotions.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America reiterates what Recreation staff has known for years; ‘When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.’**
You may think that some Residents did not experience the war, but never assume. Some of the younger Residents may have been children at the time, and had their families separated with Father’s heading overseas. For a child to lose the connection to their Father, the war years may have seemed like an eternity.
For those Alzheimer Residents not personally affected by the war years, please remember that they may sense the sorrow and remembrance exuding from the older Residents. Be patient and sensitive to their reactions and moods.
Let us ‘remember’ with dignity, compassion and feeling. Our elders deserve and are entitled their feelings.
I will leave you with the Billie Holiday version of, ‘I’ll be seeing you’… enjoy, listen and imagine ‘looking at the moon but I’ll be seeing you’…
My Mom with her Dad prior to shipping out overseas: