Yesterday The Daily Beast published an op-ed I wrote about the extraordinary power of music to transform the lives of people living with dementia.
The concept is elegantly simple: Provide a dementia sufferer with an MP3 player that has been loaded with music tailored to their taste. Let them listen. Ask them about it.
I was privileged to be part of an extraordinary film, Alive Inside by Michael Rossato-Bennett, that documented the small miracles as life re-ignites in the eyes of long-term dementia sufferers when they hear familiar tunes for the first time in years. You can watch Alive Inside in select theaters this summer and on DVD and iTunes this October. Visit www.aliveinside.us for a calendar of theatrical showings in cities nationwide. You won’t be sorry. In fact, you just might change a life.
heather c says
hello there i am with AGING 200 at the Erickson school of aging . I really like the idea behind this blog with using music to help with dementia . I have seen this work in personal experience with my own grandmother with early onset. the light come back into their eyes when you ask them to recite the words back to you which they usually can do perfectly. after months of barley holding a conversation with her ,it was amazing seeing my grandmother so excited about something while drugs on the other hand usually lead to the light in their eyes being dimmed in the first place. Anything that stimulate their memory is healthy ,which also includes gross motor and memory games. I am behind having music is nursing homes and hospitals 100 percent .
Glenna Wilder says
Hello Dr. Bill Thomas,
Thank you for this post. I have saved the “Alive Inside” DVD in my Netflix queue. It’s not yet available but hopefully soon. I am a big advocate of music for my guardianship clients who have dementia. I’m always surprised when I encounter resistance from care home providers and sometimes have to insist that they provide music. Music is just one of many powerful and creative tools in the toolkit of working with dementia. Instead, many people default to medications for “behaviors” when creative solutions may be possible. I am on a mission to enlighten people about the possibilities that can reduce or even eliminate the use of psychotropic medications which are used to subdue people with dementia. They are alive inside.
Marylhurst University graduate gerontology student