On the 4th of July, every person at Memory Care joined in to sing God Bless America. Mouths which rarely open to speak were moving with every word. These same folks, who could not tell us what they ate for breakfast, recalled a song they had not sang in months, possibly years.
It really is incredible to consider. Music is one of the few connections with the ability to escape the ravages of this disease, even in the latest stages. This is because, although cognitive function is required for virtually everything, rhythmic responses continue to be processed quite easily.
This powerful tool can be incorporated in everyday activities. By tapping into its benefits, the lives of those affected can be greatly impacted. Following are just a few examples.
Music sparks powerful connections
Simply by singing Happy Birthday or Amazing Grace, vivid images of childhood memories or Sunday mornings can be accessed. Likewise, jingles from popular commercials or shows, even from long ago, are instantly engaging. Musical connections are especially strong and provide a link to emotions and understanding.
Melodies are a form of communication
Although my father, who is in late stage Alzheimer's, is often unresponsive to verbal cues, I can almost without exception count on one special form of communication. Just by whistling a few notes of a familiar tune, Dad will respond by whistling the song. He cannot tell you what school he attended, but is quite capable of whistling a beautiful rendition of his alma mater's fight song.
Songs are useful in redirecting behaviors
Requests may be met with opposition, but setting them to song often has positive results. The message seems to travel a different track when accompanied with music. Next time your loved one is resistant, try singing your request. Whistle a bad mood away or dance them to the bathroom.
Music boosts spirits and calms agitation
Music influences our emotions. Even without consciously hearing music during a movie, feelings of sadness, anticipation, or danger are experienced depending on the soundtrack. Likewise, the environment can be impacted by playing music which encourages positive feelings. A happy, familiar tune improves moods while soft music relaxes and relieves stress.
Familiar tunes reap huge rewards
It is important to choose songs that are meaningful to the individual. Songs from early adulthood are usually most enjoyed. By making a soundtrack, songs can be enjoyed repetitively in a familiar order. Try incorporating certain songs during daily events to give your loved one a sense of familiarity.
Is anyone still humming Singing in The Rain? Most of us subconsciously heard the tune the moment we saw the picture above. Musical connection is rich in memories and emotion. Despite the cloudiness Alzheimer's presents, there is always a song to be found. It is a gift we cannot afford to miss.
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