For a Love of Music and Children

Edith* was wandering the halls last fall when she encountered Pam Forsyth, Assisted Living Coordinator at The Marleigh, a BayBridge Senior Living community in Unionville, ON. Forsyth noticed Edith was having trouble collecting her thoughts, so she invited the resident to the lounge to chat. Edith retrieved a note she’d written to herself, and expressed that she really missed music. “No, no, no,” said Edith, when Forsyth mentioned the many musical performances at The Marleigh. “What I miss are the children.”

A light bulb went on for Forsyth: thanks to BayBridge’s extensive discovery process of gathering information about every resident who moves in, Forsyth recalled that Edith knew how to play piano, and suspected she also used to teach music. “Would you like to teach piano to my child?” Forsyth offered. Edith smiled and said she’d love to.

Forsyth set about arranging a unique life-enrichment opportunity for Edith. Her family confirmed that the 86-year-old used to teach piano to a youth group, and brought her old piano books to the residence. Forsyth soon heard the sounds of children’s music drifting through the fourth floor as Edith practiced in preparation for teaching. “I knew then we’d awoken a missing need in Edith,” says Forsyth. “I was thrilled that we would be able to bring music, as she remembered it, back into her life.”

The following week, Forsyth’s husband brought their 9-year-old daughter, Kaitlin, to the retirement residence for a lesson. At first Edith assumed the girl had piano experience until Kaitlin explained that she could read music but didn’t know what to do with the keys. Edith switched gears and started teaching her from scratch. About 30 minutes later, Forsyth returned to see teacher and student both thrilled at Kaitlin playing “Jingle Bells.”

“This life enrichment experience confirmed for me how important the discovery process is,” says Forsyth. “When we invest our time in what really matters to each person, we can come up with creative solutions to reach resident’s individual needs.”

Of course, the lessons were secondary to the power of the relationship forged by Kaitlin and Edith, who has since moved to Memory Care at the senior living community. “Intergenerational programming is important to many of our residents,” explains Forsyth. “I’m honoured to have seen this firsthand, and to have had my daughter be part of something so special for Edith. Kaitlin will often bang away at the piano at home with some of the notes she learned, but more importantly, she wants to visit Edith each time she comes to the Marleigh.”

How might your life be enriched by spending time with people who really care? Find out at a BayBridge Senior Living community near you.   

*Resident’s name has been changed to protect her privacy

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