In our years of serving caregivers and their loved ones facing a dementia diagnosis, we have seen some incredible acts of love. Every caregiver, day in and day out, gives so much of themselves to their loved one who only needs more support as the days go by. It has not only warmed our hearts, but lifted us up as a community, to see the devotion and unrelenting compassion our caregivers display. Each and every one deserves a medal of honor, immense praise, and so on and so forth. However, today I would like to highlight one story in particular.
Joan and Bob Seiler were married in 1967. She was a second-grade elementary school teacher and he a music teacher; together they were the perfect fit. Over the years they shared music, art, and a wonderful son together. Joan and Bob cared for one another through it all, especially during Joan’s diagnosis of dementia during the later years in their life. Once Bob began to realize Joan needed more engagement and support than he could provide on his own, he reached out to Insight to enroll her in the day program. Joan’s kind nature, warm smile, and love for everyone around her made her easily beloved at the center. Her love of art, animals - and dogs in particular - could be evidenced in her joyful demeanor when the therapy pups would pop in for a visit. However, it was Joan’s love of music that shone the brightest during her time at Insight. Whether it was peaceful piano, the ballads of Frank Sinatra, or the sound of her husband’s violin, Joan always resonated with music.
As Joan progressed in the late stages of dementia and she struggled more and more each day to communicate, the staff at Insight used music to develop ways to embrace her personhood. Although Joan continued to respond to animals and art, it was truly the music played by her husband that brought her the greatest joy.
After seeing Annette, one of the recreation staff at Insight, playing piano, Bob asked if he could accompany her music stylings with his violin. He was enthusiastically welcomed and set a reoccurring date to perform for the participants at Insight each week. It became an activity people anticipated and looked forward to--staff included! To witness such a vivid display of love, touched us all.
Joan lost her battle with dementia in October of 2019. She and Bob are beloved members of our Insight family whom we adored. Although Joan has passed, Bob has still held his reoccurring music date with Insight. He performs every week in honor of Joan, at the young age of 91.
Valentine’s Day, and every day, we celebrate caregivers like Bob. As we share the love this month, we hope you take a second to appreciate the caregivers you know. Each and every day, whether they know it or not, they are playing their own love song that their loved one needs to hear.
Katelyn Sloan is the Director of Marketing at Insight Memory Care Center.