Arts, Music and Dementia by Sarbjit Kaur

On the 13/14th April, Sikhs all around the world celebrate Vaisakhi and a procession called ‘Nagar Kirtan’ led by five Khalsa proceeds through public spaces. Vaisakhi marks the inauguration of the Khalsa, the body of committed Sikhs who have decided to dedicate their lives to the values of the Sikh Gurus. The Khalsa meaning “pure sovereign” was founded to create a group of people who were prepared to stand up to injustice, to protect people from religious persecution, uphold freedom, foster spiritual observance, promote honesty and equality and ensure all people could access basic needs such as food and health.

Sikh Elders Service users prepared a banner that was displayed on the bus traveling in the procession for the elderly and disabled.

I chose “Happy Vaisakhi” as the wording for the banner and prepared colouring pages for a therapeutic activity for the Sikh Elders group on a Monday.

Colouring has been considered to be a therapeutic activity. It’s an inclusive activity ideal for all ages. Colouring is known to reduce and relieve stress and improve hand eye coordination.

Studies have shown that colouring can provide an array of therapeutic benefits for people with dementia.

By introducing this colouring activity along with meditation music in the background the Sikh elders were able to relax. Some of the service users struggled with holding pens and pencils and decided to observe and listen to the meditation.

Like meditation, colouring let’s you switch off your brain from other thoughts – which for anyone with dementia can be very satisfying.

We had lots of conversations and smiles after the service users had completed their pictures. They all made a brilliant contribution towards the Banner for the Vaisakhi celebrations.

Sarbjit Kaur, Sikh Elders Team, Touchstone

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