‘Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect And whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect I’m afraid’ – The King and I
As the ability to orient to time and place starts to fade away, Alzheimer’s disease creates fear and disorientation in those affected. As workers in the social and health services, as nurses, as PSW’s, we can use music to give a sense of familiarity and security to battle this fear, even just a little bit.
Let’s take time and think about how a person with Alzheimer’s disease receives music in their own way; what they would say if they could.
You are my Sunshine. My mother sang this song to me when I was a baby. I sang this song to my children and grandchildren. It reminds me of happiness and good days.
O’ Canada, my national anthem; recognizing that I am Canadian and proud of the land that I live in.
Hatikva, I experienced the homecoming to Israel, the anthem of my people.
Happy Birthday. I sang this song every birthday every year of my life. It makes me happy.
You are singing me this song, it means that I am safe and everything is going to be okay.
I know all the words. I don’t have to know all the words. I sing along with the tune. I can whistle to the tune. I like listening to the song even if I cannot sing. This song makes me smile.
Alzheimer’s disease has the ability to erase the lifelong memories a person has created; their ability to articulate themselves. Music has the ability to take them back to a time when they had a sense of normalcy and grasp of reality.
At One Kenton Place music is integrated into almost every aspect of our programs and daily activities. From specialized music psychotherapy programming to live entertainment, we understand that music plays an integral part in enhancing our residents’ quality of life by helping them to recall happy memories and lowering their anxiety.
Words are the building blocks of language; like a vehicle, they shuttle ideas between minds and hearts. Music, on the other hand, is both the soul of language and the language of the soul, able to cross vast gulfs of ideology, culture, nationality and personality.
The therapeutic wonders that music can do for someone with dementia. Let’s be their voice, their advocate, and use music to give them a reason to smile, to laugh, and to sing.