This is a story about music, memory and sharing a simple, beautiful gift.
My Mom has dementia. Though we have a large, loving family, it was becoming difficult for us to visit with her. She doesn’t say much now. Sometimes she just sleeps. But she is alive inside. Maybe she knows who we are – likely she doesn’t. That’s OK. We visit anyway.
My husband and I came across a documentary film called “Alive Inside.” He describes it so well, I use his words here:
We just watched the documentary film, Alive Inside, which is well done, humorous, enlightening, inspiring — and about dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The therapy that Dan Cohen and the organization Music and Memory have implemented in facilities across the country is both effective and simple, safe and doable.
It involves connecting patients with music, music personal to their lives that reconnects them to themselves in a way thought forever lost. To harness “music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.”
The film and its real life stories offer hope for a condition perceived to be without any. It demonstrates joy, laughter, and peace in a population long relegated to confusion, depression, and often, to drug induced stupor.
Moreover to caregivers and families, the therapy offers an opportunity to do something for those they love that makes a positive difference. Making a personal music playlist on an iPod.
We encourage you to watch the movie and the additional features afterwards. It’s on Netflix and available from iTunes and there’s more info here.
We set up a personal music iPod for my Mom. The first time she listened we knew it was a great idea. She smiled, her shaking stopped, and after awhile she gave a quiet applause.
Here are some comments from two of my family members and a friend:
May 31, 2015
Thank you to Christine and Michael for putting together the I-pod for Mom and thank you to Joyce for making a complete package with the split earphones–I actually enjoyed listening to Simon & Garfunkel and Elvis, although The Sound of Music took a bit more effort!
Mom is getting the benefit of all your work. Also, several people at the nursing home were interested and said they were going to make recordings for their loved ones. So the progress seems slow, but is catching on.
The last time I saw Mom, it was a beautiful day, so I took her out to the garden. She was not very verbal, and I have learned, rather than asking her if she wants the earphones on, I just say…”Let’s listen to Elvis!” and I just gently put them on. I showed her the iPod, showed her all the buttons, and told her how amazing it is that this little thing holds so many songs (and Mom did seem to be focused on what I was explaining). So we sat in the warm sun for about a half-hour. During this time, the sun might have caught the iPod and she tried to grab it. I realized what she was doing and I put it in her hand. She held it tightly while listening to the music. It was really special to see her wanting to hold this thing that (I think) she connects to enjoyment, contentment, pleasure…whatever positive feeling the iPod evokes.
So, thanks again, Chris – and please tell Michael also – for making this happen. I think this is a great thing for Mom and I also believe this will help the other residents as well, as Julie described.
All of the nurses (and my skeptical siblings) were amazed at how happy my mom became, listening to her beloved Billy Joel on her new iPod shuffle!
Music makes such a difference . . . especially in someone like my Mom’s situation, who can’t read, watch tv, etc.
What we do matters. What can you do today to make someone smile?
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