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Music for the Soul


“You can change a person’s mood in a matter of a song.”  ~Jolene

I read this quote in a wonderful book called Creating Moments of Joy by Jolene Brackey. The author, Jolene, writes about different situations with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. She gives an inside look on how to care for and love someone with a memory loss disease and how you as a family member or caregiver can cope with it. I came across one of her articles talking about how listening to music can effect a person’s mood. I thought how appropriate it was because music is always played in each AutumnGrove cottage. The music is tailored to our residents’ taste. For instance, we do not play today’s hits because it is not the style our residents would connect with. We play big band music, Frank Sinatra and even old time radio shows from the 1930s and 1940s. What is the purpose of playing the music for our residents? To quote Jolene, you can change a person’s mood in a matter of a song.

Think back to a time when you had a challenging day and you get in your car and turn on the radio and whatever song is playing just makes you even more irritated than you already are. You quickly begin switching stations trying to find a good song and you end up hearing one from your childhood. It is one of those songs that you must have listened to a million times growing up and you still recall ever single word. Your mood instantly changes. You feel the stress start to lift off your shoulders and you feel happy and carefree like you did as a child. This is the same feeling that someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia has when they hear a song from their childhood. Most of the time you might not think to play music they like because you don’t like that genre of music. But think of how it will make them feel. Their mind floods with memories that were once lost and their mood changes dramatically.

record playerI remember times when I visited my grandfather at his assisted living and he would complain about the music that was played in the halls. It was normally smooth jazz and he hated it. I often would take my iPad with me while visiting him so I could turn on his favorite music. John Philip Sousa. Known for his classic military marching band music (or as I thought of it, classic napping music), my grandfather loved it. The second I turned up the music his body would relax, a smile would creep across his face and you could just tell his was in pure bliss. He would listen to it for hours and hours. Many times my iPad ran out of battery because it played for so long, but I knew the joy it brought him so I never minded.

Next time you visit your loved one take an iPad or stereo and play their favorite music. See how their mood changes and you will be surprised at the effect it has on them. Music from their childhood normally brings a sense of comfort and peace that can bring back memories that have been in hiding for some time. Music is just one of many things that can change a person’s mood or attitude. Learn what your loved one used to “rock out” to and who knows, maybe you will find new music for yourself in the process.

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