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Old 01-05-2009, 03:12 AM   #1
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Music and Alzheimer's

Hello

I am really interested in the benefits of music in the early stages of Alzheimers and the benefits in all stages.

I am currently studying the 2nd year of a Community Music course at Goldsmiths College and I am working on an assigment about this subject now.

I would really appreciate if anyone would share with me their personal experiences if they found music helped them or someone close to them who has Alzheimers.

I have heard a story about an elderly man who had not spoke a word for years and one day some community musicians came to the home he lived at, the elderly man picked up their violin and began to play all these songs that he knew, not in tune but the melodies were clear. It's incredible that he was not speaking but all this wonderful music was still there for him that he use to play when younger. Can you imagine how that made him feel at that moment? It was this story that got me into exploring music and Alzheimers.

I would really love to hear any stories you have or have heard.

Look forward to your replies.

Kind regards
Shirley

 
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:06 AM   #2
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Re: Music and Alzheimer's

Music was a huge help for my mother, who had dementia and passed away a year ago. She always loved listening to opera on the radio, and when she was in a nursing hme because of a fall and broken femur, it was a great joy when someone took the time to tune in her radio (she had forgotten how to turn it on) to classical music. It calmed her, and made her happy.

My mother grew up in Germany and all her life loved to sing German folk songs. The last time I visited her, my daughter with me, we sat around and sang German folk songs. Although she forgot the one we had jst sung and wanted to sing it again ("I know another one ... let's sing XXX) we were both amazed at how the words came back to her, and how many verses she knew. She especially liked the old drinking songs, about beer and wine.

I truly believe music helped her to enjoy those last few months, although in a wheelchair, incontinent and unable to do much.

This sounds like a fun study! I hope you can go to an Alzheimer unit of a local hospital or nursing home and see for yourself.

Love,

Martha

 
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:53 AM   #3
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Re: Music and Alzheimer's

The benefits of Music in the Alzheimer world is an amazing subject that does need more investigation and study. My Dad has never been music oriented but I have seen the benefits for my mother. Recently Mom was having a very bad day. She was in tears most of the day in what we refer to as a major melt down. There was a "Sock Hop" scheduled for that evening. It took much convincing to get her out of the room but when she realized that Dad and I were going whether she did or not she relented and went downstairs telling me all the way she was NOT going to enjoy it. There was a DJ playing all the old tunes so well known to Mom. Within minutes Mom was dancing and smiling. She continued until we had to make her stop. It broke her melt down and the next day she was tired but in better humor. I understand this happened again at the "Christmas Dance". Music that Mom can dance to and an opportunity to dance has amazing effects on her emotional status. Dad on the other hand... just grumbles but that has always been his way with music

When I was working in AL we had a lady who was in the last days of her ALZ. She was confined to a wheel chair and had not spoken in a couple of years. There was a local group at the facility leading a hymn sing along with some of the residents and this lady was taken to the activity. We knew she was very fond of singing hymns in her younger years. When I realized that she was singing I was astounded. Somewhere about the third line of Amazing Grace she started singing with joy and a smile on her face. She sang EVERY verse of the song. That was the last time we heard words from her as she died a few weeks later.

We regularly used Music to calm some patients and bring joy to others. I have definitely seen the benefits and pleased that this therapy has finally been recognized by the academic community. Keep up the work!!!

Love, deb

 
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:54 AM   #4
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Re: Music and Alzheimer's

I had hoped to use music for my mother-in-law, who I care for and who has Alzheimer's. No matter what I put on, she just ignores it or maybe says, "oh you like that? I guess it's okay." Or, "why'd you put that stuff on?" She has no interest whatsoever in music. I've tried every genre that she ever listened to. Nothing!

I do think that for most people, though, music gets through and brings pleasure when nothing else can.

I wish you the best on your assignment.

Emily

 
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:07 AM   #5
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Re: Music and Alzheimer's

Hello Shirley,
My Mother is in Assisted Living. They play music everyday in the lobby there. The residents love this activity. They play older music and they all sit and sing and its a time of togetherness for them.

After supper there is a resident that has his own CD player and they gather around the fireplace and play music and talk. My Mom loves this time. Its a time when they all can remember together. Some can't remember what they just ate but they sure know the words to the songs. You can see their faces light up.

When I'm at Moms I play her music for her. She just loves to listen to "her" kind of music. She recalls the 40's and 50's and tells me stories. Its so sweet and we try to do this everytime. She can't play music herself. We've tried everything to prompt her and make it easy for her to play the CD player but it just doesn't work. Mom has always loved music though.

My sister started playing music during one of the socials and it took off like a rocket. From that point on they always yell "Where's the music"!!!!!!!! So I feel its a big plus for the residents. Even the grouchy ones. LOL

Love Chris

Last edited by DrewsG; 01-05-2009 at 01:33 PM.

 
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:35 AM   #6
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Re: Music and Alzheimer's

Thank you so much for all your lovely replies.

It is so much nicer to hear these personal experiences rather than just looking through books.

Thank you!

Happy New Year

Shirley x

 
Old 01-05-2009, 12:09 PM   #7
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Re: Music and Alzheimer's

Welcome to you Shirley....and thanks for including us in your observations!

I mentioned before the benefits of music in my Mom's Alzheimer. Mom still played the mandolin, harmonica, and mouth harp when first placed in an AF. (10 years ago) Dad was a musician, so all 6 of us kids grew up surrounded by and playing music!

In the beginning, when I'd sing familiar songs with/to her, the words came easily.....then after a few months those words disappeared....but NOT the music itself! We'd simply sing all those songs in a "do-do-do" fashion (which actually made it much easier for me...we could sing MORE songs without having to know the words! I made a binder with songs we'd grew up with in large print...after several months, she could no longer read, but others used the book.

Many times, as we'd sing...other clients would join in. It was interesting how those old songs seemed to be make everyone smile! I remember one time a caretaker had a tape with hymns playing...from the back came an old fella with a beautiful voice...singing perfect harmony and knowing every word! I complimented on how well he did and he told me..."Well, I do have another life besides this one...."

My observations make me believe music is the absolute last connection we have with our loved ones...I've seen this many, many times.

I still sing to Mom every week...and even up until about 5 months ago, she'd tip her head back and sing one perfect drawn-out note! Only ONE...but, to me, she WAS singing!............Pam

 
Old 01-05-2009, 12:21 PM   #8
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Re: Music and Alzheimer's

Where my mother lived there is a nurse-who is also a patient-unfortunately. In fact, she was one of the head nurses for the one of the floors. She had glad bladder surgery, and was starting to show signs of dementia, her daughters didn't want her to stay alone for her recovery. The lived out of state. Well, as we have all heard so often, after the anethethia, she slipped so badly that she couldn't live alone.

She is in the locked unit where mom was. She will come up to the desk, Tell the nurses that she is working the double shift and not to worry about her today and be perfectly sharp. Be able to read the charts, cognisant of what is needed for the day care, but can't find her nightgown next to her robe in the closet. Truly a sad case. But this wonderful woman will sit down at the piano and play-how I don't know-with no music-any song that you request. And not simple chords either. I took organ lessons for 7 years so I am familiar with playing. She is a gifted pianist. She will play and play. And she will sing the words also. We sat and sang many of the old hymns when I was there when mamma was passing. We had a crowd around the piano, they were nodding their head and humming as we sang. This wonderful woman had a pur soprano voice so I sang the harmony and we must have sang for a good half hour-just her and I singing the hymns that i knew that my mother had loved . we wove a cirlce of love and music that time and the angels graced us with thier presence. I felt that we had been blessed. When we finished. I thanked her. She told me..it was my pleasure to help you. So perhaps she knew that Momma was dying that day. I don't know.

I do know that music reaches an area that transports them back to a time when all was better and they were happier. When their life was in a beter time when they were younger, when religion was a set time of their life and hymns were a daily part of existance for many of them.


 
Old 01-05-2009, 06:23 PM   #9
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Re: Music and Alzheimer's

If anybody is interested in the technical effects of music on the brain... there is a great book "This Is your Brain On Music... The Schience Of A Human Obcession". It is rather technical but is a great explination of why Music is so amazing and affects us in so many ways....

Love, deb

PS... I am on page 100+

 
Old 01-06-2009, 03:40 PM   #10
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Re: Music and Alzheimer's

I think music is so important. Our mamaw loves to listen to her old CD's and I have Perry Como singing her to sleep most nights! She rarely makes conversation or even joins in talking other than to respond very simply, but she'll sing whole lines from a song she loves. It also has such a wonderful calming effect for her that when she seems stressed out, we turn off the t.v., turn down the lights and put on some music. Almost always helps so much!

Just last night I was helping her get ready for bed in the bathroom next to her room. I'd already put on a Perry Como CD so it would be on when we came back in. She could hear it through the wall and asked me, "Was that 'Me and My Shadow?' " We danced her to bed and it was nice to see her smile!

Does anyone have any other soothing favorite "oldies" like Como or Nat King Cole to try?

 
Old 01-14-2009, 01:06 PM   #11
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Re: Music and Alzheimer's

Another book suggestion is by Dr. Oliver Sacks-Musicophilia. He is a neurologist and the book is quite interesting he cover case histories of people with various illnesses/accidents and how the brain was effected , and then how the particular person used music to heal. It is fascinating. Some of the people helped by music had a background with music others did not.

 
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