Music, the Brain, Aging, and Memory Diseases

Jack Horner leads singing as Mickey McInnish plays keyboards during the Side by Side Singers practice at First United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ala. on Tuesday October 27, 2015. The choir is made up of people with dementia, their family members and volunteers at the Respite Ministry at the church.

Jack Horner leads singing as Mickey McInnish plays keyboards during the Side by Side Singers practice at First United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ala. on Tuesday October 27, 2015.

We live with music throughout our lives — it surrounds people no matter what their age. Children, of course, love to sing at almost as soon as they are born, but music, even for those who are not musicians, is a part of the air people breathe. Interestingly, music appears to become even more important as people age and contributes to a higher quality in life in the elder years.

No one these days disputes that music can bring happiness, joy, peace, energy, and even some sort of healing to people of every age. Increasingly, however, we are learning that for fragile elders, music not only brings joy but also rekindles memories. So why doesn’t every community of older adults have a musician on staff or at least a musician in residence who can lead a chorus, a sing-along or hymn sing? I believe that organized music programs, and not just performances that people watch, belong in every community of aging adults.

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5 Family Caregiving Facts from Pew Research Center

Pew Family Caregiving GraphIf you provide caregiving support to a family member, take a few minutes to read a short article about Five Facts About Family Caregivers at the Pew Research Center website. The short article offers details from a survey that collected information about participants’ views concerning caring for aging parents, part of a larger Pew project that focused on Family Support in Graying Societies.The image at right is one of the graphs from the article.

The information presented in this report includes data collected from participants about their views on family caregiving in the United States including:

  • the different people for whom family members provide care;
  • the ages at which people are most likely to become caregivers;
  • that most family caregivers are unpaid and not providing financial aid to the family member for whom they offer support;
  • how emotional support appears to be a significant part of the caregiving responsibilities; and
  • the rewards and stress that caregivers experience.

In addition to the graph at the right, the article features several more images that depict survey data and much more information, especially if you click to look at the more comprehensive report. Pew reports that surveys were conducted from October to December 2014 among 1,692 adults in the United States, 1,700 in Germany, and 1,516 in Italy.

Elders and Students Living Together: A Novel Housing Idea

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This picture was shared with AsOurParentsAge.net by  Humanities Deventer community administrators. Many thanks!

What if every long-term care and assisted living community had a few areas where students could live for free in exchange for an hour a day of volunteer work? Wouldn’t that create an interesting multi-age community? Well it’s been tried in The Netherlands, and it’s successful.

According to a story from the Australia Broadcast Company (ABC) an assisted living community in The Netherlands now sets aside six rooms for college students. The students live free in exchange for 30 hours of volunteer work each month. The students and the residents love it, though according to a student interviewed in the article, the main problem is that people they know die.

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What’s Your Caregiving IQ? — Take the Quiz

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 9.27.55 PMCheck out the caregiving IQ quiz over at the NextAvenue website. It includes some questions about how we define caregiving, what we spend on caregiving, and the costs of long-term care. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable and I missed a couple of these.

After each question the quiz shares the answer and offers some detailed explanations. It’s well worth a few minutes of your time.

Those of us with aging parents know that there’s a lot to learn!

Will Robots Take Care of Us When We’re Old?

Personal robots groupTake a few minutes to read a May 2014 Chicago Tribune article, An Army of Robots May Soon be Deployed to Care for the Elderly. This piece, written by Reuters columnist Mark Miller, explores how robots may be able to perform certain tasks to support elders who can’t aways do those tasks for themselves. Innovating with robots is a much-discussed idea in the technology and caregiving communities because so many boomers are aging into their senior and eventually elder years when they will require extra support.

How much of a role will robots play? The May 2014 Tribune article posits that they may play a significant one, if only because the need for caregiving jobs will rise steeply while the people to fill those jobs will rise negligibly. Author Mark Miller also quotes Cynthia Breaseal, who heads the Personal Robots Group at the MIT media lab, pointing out that many people appear to form emotional attachments with social robots. To see some of the other robots that the group is developing, check out the the MIT lab by clicking on the image above.                       Continue reading

Do We Owe Our Parents?

I’ve just finished reading an interesting article, What Do We “Owe” Our Parents?, over on Next Avenue. In the September 12, 2013 online article author Suzanne Gerber discusses the motivations of adult children when it comes to aging parents and caregiving roles and describes a nationwide on-line survey conducted for More magazine, a publication aimed at mature women.

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One small section of the info graphics. Read the description of the survey and see more info graphics in the magazine or visit the More website.

Intrigued by the Next Avenue article, an NBC Today Show interview about the survey, and More magazine’s brief on-line description (the full results will not be posted on-line until late October), I purchased the magazine. The most interesting survey result is that 81 percent of the 751 participating men and women say that they expect to help their parents when the time for helping out arrives.                             Continue reading