Ken and Bebe Telford at the Village of Sandalwood Park
By Kristian Partington
Ken and Bebe Telford sit at a table along Main Street at the Village of Sandalwood Park. From a distance, they can be seen chatting and Bebe regularly breaks out in small bursts of laughter. There are headphones upon her ears and it turns out that she’s only just connected to a sort of portable microphone/amplifier that helps her hear better.
Hearing loss on top of the changing perceptions that come with advancing dementia have been a part of Bebe’s life for quite some time now, but Ken says challenges have diminished since she got her first set of headphones.
Along with the option to hear conversations better with the amplifier, which they’ve only just begun using, Bebe is also a regular with the Music and Memory program, which uses music to help those living with memory loss or dementia find comfort in the music they love most.
“It’s been fantastic,” Ken says when asked about the response he’s seen with the Music and Memory program. In a neighbourhood where many people are living with some form of dementia, agitation and difficult emotional expressions aren’t uncommon, yet when everyone has their personalized music playing through their individual iPods, Ken says a sense of calm settles in.
“I think it’s a really great program,” he offers. “I think anything you do with music is a good thing.” Bebe seems to agree, and when asked what sort of music she likes she answers: “Everything!”
“You have to try and realize that she’s been sort of in the dark as far as sound is concerned for quite a little while now,” Ken explains, considering the recent back and forth conversations his wife has only just been able to participate in thanks to the amplifier. “We didn’t realize that she is as deaf as she is, so this is new for her.”
Now when he comes to visit they sit along Main Street and, as best as they can, they chat away with Bebe’s steady laughter always at the edge of things. She hears her husband again and that, along with steady access to her music, seems to make a big difference in the life of Bebe Telford.