Letters From Family Members

“. . . I want to tell you how grateful I am for the wonderful gift you both have given my mother and the other Heartland residents. Watching their smiles, tapping feet and ringing their bells to the sounds of James’ magic fingers on the piano keys is an inspiration to anyone facing their senior years. Plus what a special memory for her great grandson to remember her great grandma. . .

“I have to tell you, you have taken a very shy, nonparticipating eighty-seven year old woman and put a bell in her hand and dressed her in a 20s flapper costume and her pistol packin’ mama costume and made a new person our of her. It’s like seeing a butterfly coming out of its cocoon.”

“. . . When the Bell Ringers first organized, my mother was one of the first so she ‘would have something to do.’ She meant something ‘worthwhile.’ She is not one to sit and spend hours playing games, though that would keep her mind stimulated. She wanted action!

“The first time the Bell Ringers performed, I was moved to tears immediately by the changes in the faces I had come to know at Heartland. The music and activity and community feeling lifted not only their hearts, but their faces! It was incredible to me.

“My reaction to my mother’s involvement was that for the first time in years we had something to talk about that she does. Heartland Bell-Ringers was a salvation for our relationship. . . ”

“. . . The effect that these ‘Hand Bell Ringers’ artists have on the residents is unbelievable. My mother, who is 93, has a bell in each hand and a smile on her face. She ‘plays’ the bells and sings along. What is so remarkable is that at other times, the residents (most elderly women) will sit quietly in the lounge. When the ‘Bell Ringers’ arrive the residents perk up and join in the fun.”

Letters From Home Administrators

“The Heartland Bell Ringing Program under the direction of Linda Wilson and James Wagner is in its third year. This very successful program has gone on the road for over 25 performances in the Austin community. They have become Heartland’s public relations voice.

“This program has provided opportunities for Heartland residents of various cognitive, motor and physical skills to be involved in meaningful activity. They have learned and are continuing to learn new skills that improve their self-esteem and affords them ways to remain active in the community. . . ”

[From Mary L. Clem, Administrator of Heartland Healthcare]

“One of the nicest new programs we have been able to provide for our clients recently has been ‘bell ringing.’ When Linda Wilson and James Wagner arrive, everyone gets excited because they know how much fun we always have while they are here.

“This is one program that benefits all of our clients in some way. Some of our folks benefit from the challenge of learning to play the bells, while others benefit from just listening to the upbeat music of the Bell Ringers accompanied by James and his piano music. Very often, I can look in the corner and see some of our more withdrawn folks tapping their toes in time to the music. These sessions have been especially therapeutic for the folks actually learning to play the bells and learn a new skill. . . ”

[Elderhaven Day Care Facility]

“. . . Linda and James have been working with my residents at Milright for over a year. Their sessions are without a doubt the highlight of the week. All of the ladies insist on having their hair done in the morning before the bell session. Each and every resident participates and looks forward to the activity.

“In November 1995 we decided to try including the special education students in our Adopt-A-School Program at Anderson Mill Elementary. We thought this might be fun for everyone and it was. The success of the activity was more than can be described in words. . .

“As a Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, I have been encouraging Linda and James to operationalize their program so it can be taught to others. The work they are doing has the potential to become a major modality for decreasing agitation and disruptive behavior in patients with Alzheimer’s and other related dementias. . .

“I strongly believe their work is of major import because:

  • It is one of the few interventions that can be done in a group of any size and with a population with varied levels of physical and cognitive abilities.
  • It is fun and easy to engage patients, staff and families.
  • The results are consistently positive (enjoyment, increased self esteem, increased socialization, physical stimulation).

“Linda and James have perfected a truly remarkable program that needs to be replicated in every nursing home, personal care home, senior activity center and any other setting where people need an activity to experience being part of a group and have fun. . . ”

[C. Kathye Blagg, MNSC, RN, ANP, CNS, President Blagg and Associates, Inc.]

Comments from Grant Homes

“Aches, pains, grudges – move over! You just don’t have time for them when you are ringing bells. The first time I went to the class it was to observe but before the class was half over I was “begging” for a bell. I wanted to get in to the Action. I thoroughly recommend this activity for pleasure and therapy for anyone.”

[Roxie Canon of Eden Home]

“I look forward to Mondays because the Bell Ringers come and give us inspiration to think of something outside the nursing home. It is a lot of fun and I enjoy it. I was honored to be asked to participate. It is very physically therapeutic and also mentally therapeutic. Everyone looks forward to each week. Linda and James lift up our spirits and inspire us each week.

[Oleane Clark]

Comments from Volunteers and Friends

“Every employee should witness a program. These residents come alive in this room. It’s unbelievable!”

[Erica – an aide at an Assisted Living Home]

“You could send video tapes, audio tapes and phone calls, but the actual witnessing of a performance is unbelievable.”

[Sue Hajec – author]

One Response to “Testimonials”

  1. V.Merrick May 12, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    I’ve been blessed to have witnessed the impact of this program on it’s participants.

    As a Medical Provider, Chaplain, family member and musician I found this program cognitively therapeutic, spiritual, and uplifting for it’s participants!

    The warmth in interaction,tears of joy, happiness, and love were amazing and lingered with me for hours.

    I recommend the implimentation of this program as a form of exercise, physical and mental stimulation, and overall well being for our elderly and/or disabled loved ones.

    V. Merrick, Ph.D., R.N., E.-T.N.S., CEN
    Emergency Medicine and Trauma

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