Time travel through Song
You know how there is that song that takes you back to a special moment in time where you hold very fond memories. Music has that amazing power of time travel through song. And it is something we see even on people that are losing most of their cognitive faculties. Musical notes that appeal to the patient’s taste can stimulate, soothe and bring back memories and images that were long gone and bring the patient back to life for those few minutes the music lasts.
In an almost magical way, a certain song can transport you to that specific moment and remind you how you felt and could even bring those images back to your mind. For people living with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia this is no different, it is like the files where we keep our “music memories” are safe in a sort-of airplane black box. Those parts of the brain that seem gone can be reached with music in ways that normal communication does not.
As early as 16-17 weeks of life our hearing system is fully developed and we are exposed to sounds, which makes us receptive to music long before anything else. In dementia this is seen as “first in, last out”. As stated by Professor Paul Robertson, an academic, concert violinist and researcher on dementia and music on a report by AgeUK.org, “we are musical beings up to the very end of life”.
The growth of music organizations focused in dementia care is getting wider and reaching more people in care homes connecting them to those long lost mind treasures. There are plenty of testimonials that encourage others to start an organization of their own or initiate a branch of an existing foundation in their community. While there is no cure for dementia yet, there are ways of relieving the symptoms and create moments of clarity with the healing power of music.
Many will say how amazing it is to witness a person that is lying on a bed unresponsive become alive when hearing their favorite tunes. Music connects people with who they have been and who they are in their lives especially in a disease like dementia that peels away all the things you are familiar with and your identity.
It is a phoenix-like transformation of people who look far gone in their condition as music helps them engage and communicate. It is like music can connect to those parts of the brain that remain untouched by the claws of dementia. Do some time travel through song, close your eyes and remember how you felt. Music can bring you to tears sometimes as sounds can express exactly the sadness or joy you are feeling and leave you marked for the rest of your life, dementia or not.