Alzheimer’s – it is a fatal, degenerative disease of the brain that eventually affects all aspects of a person’s life (how they think, feel, act, etc.) While there’s no way to predict the order in which symptoms may occur or the speed of the progression, there are ways to better the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s. This is what Sarnia-Lambton Alzheimer’s Society aims to achieve with their Music Therapy Program – Mindful Music.
The Mindful Music Program, started in 2015, creates personalized music playlists on donated iPods, allowing the participant to listen to both their old and current favourites. The program aims at providing music to people who are experiencing depression, anxiety, and the other behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.
Vanessa Barnes, Program & Volunteer Coordinator at Sarnia-Lambton Alzheimer’s Society explains, “With age, it’s common for our memory to begin to decline, while this is not everyone’s future, music can help process thoughts and support memories.” Research shows when a person loses their ability to communicate verbally, they continue to respond to their favourite music – it evokes emotion, emotions which can help trigger memories.
The ability to understand and appreciate music can be two of the last remaining abilities of those living with Alzheimer’s. Vanessa went on to say, “It [music] has the power to reach the inner person, beyond the disease and provide security in a world that makes less sense than it did yesterday.”
“Everyone can benefit from music,” she said. Singing activates the left side of the brain while listening to music sparks activity in the right, so whether you’re 30, 50 or 85, turn on some music and warm up those vocal chords!
The Mindful Music program is accessible to those at home as well as long-term care. People can get involved with the program by calling 519-332-4444 or by emailing [email protected].