Finding the Music Within

Witnessing the struggles of a loved one living with dementia is tremendously difficult. Emotions run high when experiencing the changes in a loved one as they move through the progressive stages of the disease. These are very relatable experiences among a growing community of caregivers. Another very relatable experience that most humans share is being drawn to forms of music and lyrics played in our homes, in our cars, and in concert venues around the world.

Dan Cohen founded a groundbreaking nonprofit organization, Music and Memory, based on the simple premise that music has the power to positively impact and bring joy into the lives of people with dementia. Cohen volunteered in New York area skilled nursing facilities to create personalized playlists for their residents and raised funds to obtain several iPods and pairs of headphones for residents so that they could experience their favorite music in a way that was likely very new to them. His program is now being studied and replicated all around the country, including in Connecticut. Music and Memory is built on the profound link music has with our personal memories. Staff members at facilities managing the program are encouraged to work with residents’ loved ones to discover what songs and artists might resonate with the long-term memories of their residents that they might not have tapped into in a very long time.

The program, as described in its website www.musicandmemory.org, notes that the timing and pattern of when the music is played can have meaning. The program’s findings claim that the music of personalized playlists can help distract and ease moments of agitation in some patients. The 2014 film “Alive Inside” depicts the inception of the program and profiles patients whose lives have been touched by it. The audience is introduced to patients who were previously unresponsive and their apparent expressions in response to the music of their youth. As noted in the film’s trailer, the health care system often focuses on the biology of the human body and how medication can effect it, but too often neglects what it takes to awaken the heart and soul. The trailer can be found on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaB5Egej0TQ and the entire film can also be viewed on You Tube as well.

It is one of the many goals of Weatherby & Associates, PC to introduce new and innovative programs and ideas designed to help our clients truly live life well, even in the face of devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. To learn more about our practice, contact us at 860-769-6938.

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