It’s well-known that music often reaches people with Alzheimer’s in a way we cannot. But sometimes it’s better not to use it. Learning when to use music and when to not use it is the trick. Here are some examples.
My Romanian life partner, Ed, had always loved classical music. So I once put on a Mozart symphony and pretended to be conducting. I emulated the flashy type of conductor he loved. When I finished he looked at me with wonder and whispered, “What you did was so beautiful!”
Another way I used music with Ed was that I hired a classical violinist to come and play a concert just for Ed in his room. He was absolutely ecstatic
I visit several ladies with Alzheimer’s at a local memory care facility. Some just love listening to music – others don’t. I have asked each what type of music she likes and I have tried playing music for most of them.
Two loved it deeply. For example, Ruth (not her real name) loves big band music. When I play it for her she is transformed into one of the happiest people you’d ever want to meet.
Another lady (Carolyn – since deceased) also loved music – especially Tchaikovsky. So I played selections of the Nutcracker Suite every time. She smiled and tapped out the rhythms on her lap. And she thanked me so much for bringing the music
There are times, however, when it would probably be better not do so. For example, as much as Carolyn loved listening to Tchaikovsky, when her health deteriorated considerably she once told me that the music was confusing. I realized that I should stop bringing music for her.
This goes to show that while a person may love music at one stage of their illness, their desire to hear it may change over time, and it’s important to continually monitor their interest.
Another lady, Ethel, is a devoted Christian. So I took some hymns to play for her. She didn’t show any reaction to the music. She was far more interested in my portable CD player. So I continued playing the hymns, but it was to give her the pleasure of seeing the CD player, not necessarily hearing the music.
Still another of “my ladies,” Nancy, loved Elvis. But when I played it for her she became distressed. She told me it was so beautiful it made her cry. Consequently, I don’t play Elvis anymore.
When I asked Sue what kind of music she liked, she said, “Oh, I don’t know. I’d rather not sit around listening to music.” She said this in a fairly stern tone of voice, so I don’t play any music for her either.
Does anyone have any stories related to using or not using music at your visits?