Celtic Thunder

Continuing the conversation about Alzheimer’s and music:

Bo has surprised me yet again. I watched the Celtic Thunder Christmas special and knew that he would have loved it. He loved Christmas.  We always made a big thing of it.  We’d decorate our tree together, drink eggnog and enjoy a fire in the fireplace. We’d have dinner by the TV as we watched one of our favorite seasonal movies —  Little Lord Fauntleroy (only the Ricky Schroeder version!) our traditional holiday movie date.  Often we’d watch George C. Scott’s  A Christmas Carol, Bo’s favorite version.

He loved the carols and enjoyed  concerts like A Night in Vienna on PBS and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s New Years Eve concert.  He would tease me about my love of Christmas lights and music, but the truth was that he loved it just as much as I do, and  some years he put all of the lights up as a surprise while I was at work.

Our trees are up and decorated now but he hasn’t noticed them. Would Celtic Thunder’s concert connect with him?

I  planned to have him by the TV last night when the show was on. He hasn’t been focusing well lately,  but maybe  he would enjoy this.  It had been a difficult evening — he was unable to sit quietly, not agitated but unfocused.   Often I ask myself how I would sit still if I were in his place,  unable to read, watch TV, carry a conversation or  concentrate on anything. Lately, he has been getting worse.  The music was my hope.


I expected him to listen,  to whistle or hum,  to move his hand to the music,  to look at the lovely scene on the TV,  perhaps even to cry.  But it didn’t happen.

No matter how many times I tried to draw his attention to the music and the pictures on the TV screen, he completely ignored me. Or more accurately, he couldn’t process what I was saying. He walked around the room,  picked things up,  tried to scribble with a ball point pen he found, picked up his shoes, moved the bottles around on the bureau,  but he never heard the beautiful Christmas music.  Didn’t even look at the TV in front of him. Another loss.



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13 Responses to Celtic Thunder

  1. MCI Alice says:

    I read this and wept inside.

  2. Mary Smith says:

    I’m sorry it didn’t work out as hoped this time. Could you record the programme? Perhaps another time, Bo would enjoy it. Dad no longer takes in much from television though for some reason he always laughs at a programme from America about scrappage dealers. I think it’s a horrible programme but if we put it on he is alert and chuckling within minutes. Maybe it’s the very loud sound effects?
    I was thinking about you and music yesterday when I heard a programme on the radio about researchers looking into whether or not people in a coma can be reached by music. Out of four people described as ‘vegetative’ one clearly showed signs of brain activitiy when music was played. He went on to become semi-conscious and eventually recovered. I missed the end of the programme but it sounded like there is some fascinating research going on.
    There will be more good days with Bo.

  3. Paula Kaye says:

    I am so sorry Nancy. I cannot even begin to comprehend your life. Richard loved Christmas too. Much more than me. And yet, I have to go through it this year. I wish I could find a way out! God Bless you

  4. Arleen Stolzenberger says:

    I am so sorry. I felt real sadness for you both. I would keep trying with music. You never know what will happen.

  5. Pamela Fisk says:

    Missing you!

  6. My husband didn’t even mind that we had a small fake tree last year. God bless the Adult Day Care Center he attends, they’re doing it all there, even playing Christmas related memory games! My 90 year old Mom had a heart attack October 5, so I’m not very up. Last weekend he and I watched a Muppets movie, but he no longer can stay awake or aware that long. So mostly I enjoyed it alone. His favorite show is ironically Family Feud with Steve Harvey. He will pay attention and laugh, as we watch back-to-back episodes! Keeping it low key this year. I’ll be grateful if I can get to church Peace.

  7. I wish you a happy season — such as it is. I try to keep my thankfulness level up, knowing that it could be so much worse. I’m sorry about your Mom. Nancy

  8. Lisa M says:

    I wrote a post right after mom moved in with us about watching the movie Miracle. That US Hockey game was a big deal for mom and me. We talked about it always. And when I realized she could no longer make the connection, it broke my heart. I agree with Mary (above) – maybe it just wasn’t the right time. Hopefully the music connection isn’t gone. It’s so powerful and can breakthrough the Alzheimer’s sometimes. On mom’s last good day….the last time she spoke to me, we were listening to really old country music and I could tell she recognized it and was happy. Keep trying, but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work the way you’d hoped. Alzheimer’s is a brat and will do exactly the opposite just to prove how horrible it is. Thinking of you and Bo!

    • I remember reading your post about the country music. I want to tell you that I have so enjoyed (wrong word but what word says it?) reading all of the wonderful blogs you’ve written about your mother’s life and her death. You must be struggling into the holidays, although I know there are two sides to many of life’s events, and this surely is one. I recall feeling great relief for my mother but at the same time some days I can hardly breathe because I want her back so much. (She has been gone 2 years)

  9. Your post made me a bit misty eyed…but I’d also encourage you to keep trying with the music! I’ve been following the Music and Memory program quite closely lately (I’m assuming you’ve heard of the Alive Inside movie?) and while with some Alzheimer’s patients have instant and powerful reactions to their music, in other cases, it takes quite a lot of of trying different music with them and results and reactions can vary (as everything with Alz seems to be, the cheeky disease). One dear lady I’ve worked with quite a bit (who adores music) can either dance enthusiastically and sing along/cry/sit there looking indifferent to the same song in the course of a week depending on if she’s having a good day or not. Hang in there!! (HUGS)

  10. Nancy,..over the years I often think of the fun times at Ursinus and Bo. He is and will be always a great guy. You are a wonderful lady.Your posts stunned me. God Bless! I wish I was near to HUG you. Don

  11. Thank you, Don, for your kind words. Yes, Ursinus was special, wasn’t it? And Bo was so much fun. I hope you are well. Nancy

  12. Thank you so much for this enlightening and informative Blog. I was so sorry to read that Bo did not respond to the music. After watching “Alive Inside” I was so hopeful that music would reach everyone with Alzheimer’s, but obviously not. A close friend has been struggling with a problem that looks like it is Early Alzheimer’s and it is difficult and emotional to watch what he is going through.

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