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Blogging in Place

Bell’s Blog: Favorite Tunes

Oct 14 2015

Gene Starn a former journalist and editor of a newspaper in West Florida and, now over 90, retains a scribe’s peering eyes of skepticism.   But, when I saw him last week, those eyes had a new glint.  While Gene lives in the independent living section of a retirement community, his wife lives in the memory care unit.  He reported that for some time she had not recognized him when he visited.

Then Gene saw Michel Rossoto-Bennett’s documentary film, “Alive Inside,” which tells the story of Dan Cohen, a former social worker who discovered by accident, with one patient, that music can suddenly activate non-responsive people struggling through Alzheimer’s or dementia. This led Cohen to design the Music & Memory program on which he lectures across the country.

After seeing the film, Gene bought an iPod and programmed it with some of his wife’s favorite music.  When she began to listen, she asked him to dance and called him by his name.  Subsequently, another resident that shares Gene’s community and his situation  programmed an iPod for his wife whom required being fed in order to eat.  Upon hearing the music, she picked up a spoon and began to eat by herself.  When people who are caught within themselves hear music, they tend to come out of their den of isolation and regain a sense of self.  But, the music that inspires them must be personal and familiar to them.

While all of us are searching daily for complex solutions to the issues of aging, sometimes it is the simplest of things that can make the difference.

Happy Aging in Place Week!