The Power of Touch and Song

  • Nov. 3, 2014
  • #8481

Listen to Joni share how a non-verbal Alzheimer’s patient responds to gentle touch and the singing of hymns.

The Power of Touch and Song

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada to talk about the power of touch and song.

The other day I looked up how many references in the New Testament there are to the word “touched”. I found 22, and all but two of them have to do with Jesus reaching out and touching the sick, the lame, the blind, and the deaf. In some passages, Jesus touched eyes; in others, He touched ears. In one passage, Jesus touches the tongue of a man who cannot speak. It seems that touch and healing just go together. Even when it’s other sick people who touch Jesus to be healed, such as the woman with the issue of blood who reached out and touched the hem of His garment.

This got me interested to see how much healing happens through the human touch. What prompted my little study of mine was a particular video I just watched. It’s an amazing, and wonderfully powerful video showing Naomi Feil, the founder of Validation Therapy, touching a woman named Gladys Wilson, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2000, and she is virtually non-verbal.

It’s a little under five minutes long, but I hope you’ll take a look at it today on my radio page at, because if you know someone with Alzheimer’s, or if you have a ministry to elderly people who suffer dementia, you will be blessed by this video. What’s more, you will learn how to really and truly relate – how to have a communication breakthrough with people even in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Basically, in the video we see Naomi approach Gladys who is a frail, elderly African-American woman sitting in a big oversized chair in her nursing home. Naomi starts to gently speak to Gladys and bends down and touches her shoulders, and then she touches her cheeks and her temples as she keeps softly talking. And then, she begins singing to Gladys, especially when she starts getting a response – a lot of hand-flapping motions from her elderly friend. She sings “Jesus loves me, this I know” and you can actually see Gladys begin to respond. Then she sings “He has the whole world in his hands;” again, singing softly and stroking all the while Gladys the whole time she’s singing. And lo and behold, from somewhere deep within this African American woman with Alzheimer’s; from years back, from when she was probably a little girl, Gladys begins to sing along, so softly as barely a whisper, but she’s singing; she’s communicating; she’s responding! The video brought tears to my eyes, and I think you’ll react the same.

So if you have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s, take a moment and be inspired and learn a few lessons on how you can more successfully connect with that loved one of yours who has Alzheimer’s. It’s all there for you on my radio page at Finally, since this is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, be in prayer, would you, for more churches to catch the vision of starting more ministries to people with dementia. So often it is said of these people that they “aren’t there anymore,” but I think this video will debunk that myth. So I encourage you to keep reaching out to that loved one, or that neighbor or friend who may be in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. Follow the example of Jesus and give them the touch of His love, as well as the beauty of His worship music. I pray that you will. Because when it comes to reaching into the dark recesses of a mind suffering with dementia, wonderful things happen through the power of touch and the power of song.

© Joni and Friends


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