Music is something we all can ‘resonate with.’ When I’ve done Musical Instrument Museum tours, I always ask for a show of hands: “Who plays a musical instrument?” and “Who likes to listen to music?” All hands go up. This applies to all of us. It’s the latest buzz in the culture that music improves the lives of those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and it’s true. I’ve seen it time and time again.
The photo here shows a music book my longtime friend had left on the organ at a church in Tucson. I found out years later she had developed serious dementia. Her daughter-in-law, who had brought her home to the east coast, found an electronic keyboard. When my friend sat down and saw another songbook of hers, she played it cover to cover. If the keyboard hadn’t been provided, she may have never played again. But she had the chance to show her true colors, and they were beautiful to hear.
I knew another woman at a care community who couldn’t speak comfortably anymore, but when I started playing live music one evening a week right after supper, she sat in the front row and sang every – single – word – of – every – song. Wow, I said to myself, this is powerful. We made sure she was at each music evening, so she could access herself again so beautifully, and so others could see her come to life again, and regain respect for her as a connected human being.
We humans still need proof that someone is ‘in there’ and when we can see a transformation like this, it’s good for all of us.
So make music, or provide it for yourself and the one you care for. Keep song lists on the table or piano, and see if the one you love remembers. I’ve seen them remember often; make it easy, and start the music yourself. It will put a spring in your step too. Win-win.
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