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The Power of music on people affected by dementia or Alzheimer's

(10 Posts)
biba70 Wed 11-Nov-20 17:44:30

this video turned up today on my FB page, and me me cry. So so moving and powerful

when my own mil was in the latter stages of Alzheimer's in a care home, she was totally withdrawn from anyone, staff and her own adult children and grandchildren. We went to Cape Town to visit, where she was born, and was inspired, somehow, to buy a CD of local Nursery Rhymes, in Afrikaans, her mother-tongue. When we returned and went to vist- we put the tape on and the reaction was just incredible. She came to life and got so excited, and started to sort of sing along. Over the next few months, staff played it for here twice a day- and she got better with the words. The only time of the day she showed any sign of 'life'.

kittylester Wed 11-Nov-20 19:44:04

All types of dementia seem to respond to music.

The Alzheimer's Society runs singing for the brain groups and a couple of friends run regular Zoom sessions for people with dementia. There are now Radio channels that are aimed at specific eras of music dependant upon what will suit the person living with dementia.

Grandmafrench Wed 11-Nov-20 20:05:26

I too watched this lovely lady this morning remembering all her ballet steps just because of the music. So moving. If you never saw Vicky McClure's Dementia Choir (Summer 2019) on t.v., do watch it. The absolute magic that music works on the brain is extraordinary. I recall watching the late Glen Campbell sing and play on t.v. as if he had no problem at all. He said he just "remembered" the music and how to play as if a part of his brain just refused to let those skills go. As kitty has said, music has been proved to help and is now playing a key part in helping those living with dementia.

seacliff Wed 11-Nov-20 20:45:21

I have watched that clip several times now, and find it so moving. What grace she still has. To see the footage of her dancing in the 60s and now, she was transported by the music.

SueDonim Wed 11-Nov-20 20:50:42

This is lovely but I think people shouldn’t run away with the idea that it’s a salve for all dementias. A dear friend is well into his dementia journey, although he is only in his very early 70’s. Music therapy for dementia patients is something that has been developing parallel to his dementia for the past few years.

Sadly, he is unresponsive to any music played to him, it simply doesn’t seem to elicit any response from him at all. Maybe he’s beyond it, who knows?

Dementia is a vile, vile condition and I’m glad music helps some people but awareness of its limits is also important.

WOODMOUSE49 Wed 11-Nov-20 21:13:08

My friend sent me a link to this the other day.

I do wonder if the chosen music does need to have featured in that person's life in a big way in the past to have such an impact.

Beautiful image.

petra Wed 11-Nov-20 21:21:36

Don't give up hope that your friend will never experience the joy of music. The brain of an Alzheimer's sufferer will go through many changes and there's nothing to say that he won't have this joy.

biba70 Wed 11-Nov-20 21:25:34

SueDonim- yes, sadly it does not work with everyone.

In the case of this lady, and perhaps musicians too - it does awake memories of sorts- but perhaps not for non musicians.

And perhaps just the 'wrong sort of music' for your friend. Maybe his family might know what he realla enjoyed, be it rock, or bagpipes, or accordion, or ....whatever. It needs to 'ring a bell' somewhere perhaps, to be effective. My OH for instance, would know what to play to touch me and have an effect.

My sil used to play the piano, not very well, not professionally, but she enjoyed it. She stopped when she developped Alzheimers, as she got very cross she was making mistakes. She had to move care homes a few times, for all sorts of reasons, and in the last one, there was a baby grand piano. Left alone one evening with my visiting brother, he asked her if she wanted to play? She could no longer string a sentence together - but he took her to the piano, and she played her favourite piece, without hesitation. She never played again and died soon later. Amazing.

For my mil, it was because she had not heard the nursery rhymes from South Africa for many many years- and never heard Afrikaans for many years too.

Witzend Wed 11-Nov-20 21:34:13

At my mother’s dementia care home, singalongs of very well known songs were popular, but they also played musical ‘bingo’, which went down well with those who were not too far gone.

Their ‘cards’, much larger than usual bingo cards, had the titles of very well known songs or hymns, and there were short sections of these on a CD.

Most of them needed help with marking their cards, but they’d nearly all recognise the songs and start singing along.

By the time I thought my mother was largely past taking any interest in anything, I took in a CD of a niece, her youngest granddaughter, singing a solo in her very beautiful soprano, of Panis Angelicus with her school choir.

I hadn’t expected any reaction when I played it to her, but was amazed and so pleased that she responded very positively - actually listened and said how lovely it was. Though sadly she had no recollection at all of that granddaughter, who lived in America.

We played that track at her funeral.

SueDonim Wed 11-Nov-20 22:16:24

He wasn’t a huge music fan in his previous life, although of course we all grow up with music in our lives, even if it’s just at school or church. He was someone who liked to be outdoors and doing things with his hands - maybe the sound of hammering or drilling would be more to his liking!