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Reaching People with Alzheimer's Through Music
By Barbara Jacobs, M.S.
(Page 2 of 2)

My formula for success, which can be replicated by caregivers at home, is a two-part music session. In the first part I play CDs of favorite recording artists such as Judy Garland and Nat King Cole. The second part consists of an old-fashioned sing-along in which I accompany the residents on the piano. Everyone is given large-print lyrics of each song so they can fully participate – and they do!

If you would like to add music to your loved one’s day, here are some activities to consider:

  1. Visit your local music store to find CDs from the 1930s through the 1950s.  Songs should be familiar to your loved one, such as songs from their teen years.  Favorite popular artists, Broadway shows such as “South Pacific” and “Oklahoma,” and works of composers like George Gershwin are but a few possibilities.
  2. There are many ready-made sing-along video and DVD resources available by searching on the Internet.
  3. Your public library is another wonderful resource where you can borrow musical CDs or DVDs of an opera or Broadway show.
  4. If you play an instrument and want to have a sing-along, play it at a slower pace and in a lower key. You can obtain lyrics from the Internet and print them out in an enlarged typeface.
  5. Create a soothing atmosphere by tuning your radio to a classical music station. My students particularly enjoy works by composers such as Mozart and Chopin.

Add singing and humming to your daily activities and encourage your loved one to join in and sing. Your participation in musical activities is bound to lift your spirits, too.

I have always known that music can open hearts. Through my teaching experience, reinforced by recent research, I have seen how it can also open minds.

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