How Music and iPods are Helping Dementia Patients

In April 2013, my grandfather died at the age of 102 1/2. He was in pretty good shape up to 100, but a never-ending parade of tiny strokes began to poke bigger and bigger holes into his memory. By the time he died, he was almost completely uncommunicative. Almost.

There was always a radio on his bedside table tuned to a distant AM station that played his favourite old-time music. And while his short- and long-term memories degraded, he was always able to recognize the music that came from the radio.It calmed him when he was agitated and picked him up when he was down. Such is the complex interplay of music and the brain.

Which brings me to this story from the National Post. It speaks of an experiment in Wisconsin that involves given pre-loaded iPods to dementia patients and then observing the results.  A documentary called Alive Inside documents everything. It’s fantastic.

Music therapy is a wonderful and mysterious thing.  There’s an Ongoing History of New Music show on this very subject coming up next month. It’s an area of study that I find fascinating.

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