Oh the places you used to go,
All the people you used to know,
The stories that you loved to tell
About a life that you lived so well.
It’s fine, you can rest if you want to.
I will remember for you,
I will remember too.
Music is a story with a melody. The song above tells the story of a couple touched by Alzheimer’s disease. It was written and performed by Home Instead Senior Care staff member Dave Mainelli, and is inspired by all the families they have met who are keeping the memories alive for loved ones experiencing memory loss. Music powerfully communicates emotion and narrative, making it an excellent tool to evoke memories for those living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
The Power of Music
A drum beat, a guitar strum, a melody, and soon you’re humming along. It has power to reach past the mind and touch the soul, and has a soothing therapeutic effect particularly beneficial to someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
A study published in the Journal of Music Therapy demonstrated that playing familiar background music helped to increase positive social behaviors in people with Alzheimer’s and decrease negative behaviors related to agitation.
Music has also been proven to drastically decrease anxiety and depression in people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders. One caregiver summed up her experience with music saying she would wake her husband up every morning to the Louis Armstrong song, “Wonderful World,” and “He always started the day in a great mood.”
Even when Alzheimer affects other memories, those experiencing memory loss can still remember and respond to music. You can leverage the power of music in a number of different ways to lift the spirits of a family member and unlock memories from long ago.
One way is to create a “life soundtrack” that includes memorable songs from your loved one’s childhood, teenage, young adult and older years. Singing can have a positive effect on one’s mental state. When you play the soundtrack you created for your loved one, sing along together. You may be surprised how many lyrics your loved one still remembers by heart.