Music Unlocking Long Lost Memories at McLean

A McLean Home resident and Stephen Root share the joy she receives listening to her i pod on which he has recorded her favorite musicby Freddi Hoffmann

What songs trigger wonderful memories for you, Glen Miller, The Beatles, The Dead? At the McLean Health Center Sorenson Media Center Coordinator Stephen Root reaches out to families to learn about residents’ musical passions even for those residents with advanced dementia. He notes that the McLean families are so pleased to provide this information and have told him that some played instruments, others loved dancing, and others just had favorite musicians. Steven then locates the songs or genre and puts them on iPods.

After dinner several evenings a week, different small groups of residents listen to their individual iPods with Stephen’s assistance. On Tuesday, I had fun joining a session. Fingers started to strum, smiles came over faces that can be quite blank due to dementia, and one lady sang along. Steve told me that she often tells her daughter about listening to “her music” when the daughter visits so she remembers the experience well afterwards.

It was clear to this observer that this music is a very personal and pleasurable experience for each one of them. They were very comfortable with the headphones and as one gentleman came into the group, he started to grin when he saw the headphones. He played the accordion, so Steven is working on accordion music for him. Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra are choices of several residents. One loves 30’s tunes while another is into pop music from the 50’s and 60’s.

So if you have an elderly loved one, be sure that you help them to listen to their favorite tunes. It could be a very simple but very meaningful gift.