Silver Chain nurse uses dancing, music to help Kalamunda Alzheimer’s patient

Terry and Jeanette Smallwood
Terry and Jeanette Smallwood

MUSIC and dance is helping to bring joy to a Kalamunda woman living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Jeanette Smallwood (77) suffers from the disease but thanks to music therapy and respite care through Silver Chain has been able to stay at home, with her husband of 58 years, Terry.

Ms Smallwood has developed a connection with her carer Priya through music and although each day they start off as strangers because of the disease, they soon become best friends dancing and singing to songs from the sixties.

Mr Smallwood said as his wife’s full time carer having a bit of help meant that we should get out of the house.

“Jeanette was diagnosed five years ago and Alzheimer’s is dreadful,” he said.

“She knows who Terry is, but she doesn’t recognise that I’m Terry and her husband.

“Every day is much the same, I help her get dressed, I cook for her and help her around the house. It gets very tiring and I don’t get much time to do the normal things other people get to do like socialise.

“When Priya comes over I have peace of mind that Jeanette is in safe hands.”

Silver Chain executive general manager of social care Melanie Kiely said they used music to help dementia patients.

“We’ve found that using music of placing someone living with dementia into a familiar situation can stimulate their mind and have a profound effect on their mental and physical health,” she said.

Mr Smallwood said his wife and Priya had a special bond.

“Jeanette was glamorous in everything she did and always wanted to be on stage. She loved singing and dancing,” he said.

“Priya helps my wife with her hair and makeup and then they sing and dance for hours.

“The way Jeanette’s face changes and the way her smile grows when the music starts is remarkable, she knows the words to every song she’s ever heard, but not much else.”