Singing Sinterklaas songs with people with dementia

Sinterklaas is an important celebration, in the past and still is today… For young and old. Elderly people with dementia, usually due to Alzheimer’s disease, often still have memories of this December festival. Memories that you can recall by singing well-known Saint Nicholas songs with them. Music supports memory. The melody of a Sinterklaas song can effortlessly evoke the complete text for an elderly person with Alzheimer’s. The other way around is also possible: the words evoke the Sinterklaas music again. The songs evoke memories of past Sinterklaas celebrations. Sing these songs, add a Sinterklaas treat and you have a respectful, adult and easy to organize Sinterklaas party in which almost everyone can participate!

Singing Sinterklaas songs with people with dementia

In order to have a successful Sinterklaas celebration with a song program consisting of well-known Sinterklaas songs, it is of course first and foremost important to know which songs about this December festival were previously sung by the elderly with dementia. Hence this (not complete) overview of the ‘golden oldies’ among the songs about the Goed Heiligeman.

Sinterklaas songs

  1. Look, the steamer from Spain is arriving again
  2. Who comes sailing there all the way from Spain every year?
  3. He’s coming, he’s coming, that good, good Saint
  4. Guys, have you heard it yet, tiralalali, tiralalala
  5. Hear the wind blowing through the trees
  6. The horse’s feet go softly, trippel, kick, trippel, kick
  7. See the moon shining through the trees
  8. On the high, high roofs, Saint Nicholas rides with his servant
  9. Little Sinterklaas, throw it in my shoe
  10. Sinterklaasje bonne, bonne, throw it
  11. Oh, come and see what I find in my shoe
  12. It’s Sinterklaas’ birthday, I’ll get my shoe ready
  13. There’s a knock at the door, loud knocking, soft knocking
  14. Hear who’s knocking there, children, hear who’s knocking there, children
  15. Sinterklaas, come in with your servant
  16. Sinterklaas’ bag, Sinterklaas, Sinterklaas
  17. Sinterklaas, that good gentleman, rides up and down the roofs
  18. Bye Sinterklaasje, bye, bye bye bye

Putting together a song program around Saint Nicholas for clients with Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia

How do you put together a good song program for people with dementia? Of course you can ask the elderly which Sinterklaas song comes to mind first. But that could be difficult. Or you can keep the initiative yourself: you always propose a song. However, a more methodical approach may be better.

Put together a chronological singing program

A more methodical approach is to follow a chronological order when singing the songs associated with the Sinterklaas celebration. So… you start with ‘See over there comes the steamboat’ and end with ‘Hello Sinterklaas!’ Adhering to the chronology of the Sinterklaas celebration offers the elderly some structure and supports their weakened memory functions. This also offers you something to hold on to.

A song program for a festive Saint Nicholas celebration could look like this:

  1. See yonder comes the steamboat
  2. The horse’s feet move softly
  3. There’s a knock at the door

Break with a suitable Sinterklaas treat

In addition to the standard coffee and tea break, consider a break with hot chocolate or aniseed milk for those who wish. For a sweet, think of scallops and gingerbread nuts and chocolate or a letter of pastry or filled gingerbread, because many elderly people cannot handle hard, chewy sweets. Real gingerbread nuts, real chocolate letters, taai-taai, gingerbread chunks or gingerbread with almonds: it is too hard for many. But they are the best at talking about it! So don’t miss that opportunity.

  1. Sinterklaas, come on in
  2. Sinterklaas’ bag
  3. Goodbye Sinterklaas

Reminiscing: reminiscing about the Good Heiligman

Many elderly people like to reminisce. It is extra pleasant for elderly people with dementia to reminisce. They know a lot about the past. So before, between the songs and after singing with the dementia patients, you can easily talk to them about the past. How did they celebrate Sinterklaas in their youth? Did they sing songs by the chimney when they put down their shoe? Did they sing Sinterklaas songs at school? Did they sing songs at home with father and mother? Music has a great ability to evoke memories in the memory.

Songbooks with the lyrics of the Sinterklaas songs

It is quite a job to put together, but you will enjoy it for years to come: a booklet with the well-known songs that you will sing again next year around December 5th. Use a large, bold font. Start each song at the top of a new page and number the pages. This makes the booklets more useful for the elderly. The old eyes, the dementia, they place special demands on the material you make for these elderly people.

Sing yourself: know your classics!

Finally: make sure you know the songs yourself quite well. If that is not the case, buy a CD with the well-known songs and study them! You can also use this Sinterklaas CD to create atmosphere at the beginning and end of the Sinterklaas activity. And then let Santa come in with his assistants!

read more

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  • Sinterklaas quiz: brain fitness for dementia
  • Singing winter songs with demented elderly people
  • Music quiz for elderly people with dementia
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