More on Music & Memory Loss

Christmas Memories album

An album that helps my father remember all sorts of events from Christmases past.

I’ve just finished an article that describes a celebratory Independence Day musical activity for people with memory loss, held at Iona Senior Services in Washington, DC. This illustrates, once again, how familiar music appears to short circuit, at least temporarily, certain aspects of dementia, because the act of singing or listening to the music reconnects people to memories in the past.

The Washington Post article describes how an Iona volunteer led a group singing event with patriotic songs such as American the Beautiful and The Star-Spangled Banner. They also read poetry. As the singing progressed, people remembered activities from July 4th celebrations in their past. The article has much more information.

Music is miraculous. As I wrote in my post, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, and the Miracle of Music, familiar music reconnects my dad to experiences and memories that he has not remembered for some time. Dementia Music Therapy describes how songs from Broadway musicals had an extraordinary effect on my husband’s mother. I’ve also written a post about the Alive Inside Documentary, a movie that illustrates the extraordinary changes that occur when people, even those with severe with memory loss, are given music players loaded with playlists that are expressly created to help them reconnect with the past.

In my family, listening to music with my dad creates rich conversations, again and again, sometimes including information I’ve not heard before. Without the music those discussions would not happen.

2 thoughts on “More on Music & Memory Loss

  1. Yes, there is so much evidence (both research and experiential) on the power of music. I’m not about advertising products, but I would say that a recent purchase of the inexpensive headphones (preload music from your computer, and operates with simple on/off button) from “Alive Inside memory player” has been a phenomenal add for my mom. A caregiver can turn on or off, for those with low vision or other special needs. It allows her to sit in the sun and listen to music or when others might be watching TV.


  2. This week we started on a patch that delivers a medication that is supposed to help with my mom’s short-term memory. We had the cutest conversation:

    Mom: Now, why am I starting this patch?
    Me: It’s supposed to help improve your short-term memory, or at least, help it stay where it is
    Mom: Where should we put them?
    Me: How about in the bathroom, right next to your toothbrush? That way, you’ll change it out when you get up every morning.
    Mom: Why am I taking these?
    Me: It’s supposed to help improve your short-term memory.
    Mom: You just told me that–I guess I really need it then!
    Both of us: Giggles on the couch.

    It’s so fun to get to laugh with mom. I need to cling to how much fun we can still have together.


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