As my grandmother’s condition deteriorates over the months, it’s really interesting to see what still resonates and the things that remain familiar.
She’s never really been a TV watcher. I can remember as a child when I would spend the night with her, we usually stayed up until midnight (which of course I loved) and our mornings began with just enough time to get to the breakfast table to catch the 11:00 AM episode of Young & The Restless and the noon broadcast of the news. Other than those two, football and Oprah, those were the only shows I really remember her ever actually making an effort to watch. Needless to say, nothing has changed, she still has very little interest in TV.
So, tonight as she sat on the sofa, coherent enough to ask how my day was, yet still somewhat in a state of confusion and mumbling under her breath, I turned on the football game. As a football fan, the first game of the regular season, was actually something I was excited to see. Her, not so much. Especially the pre-game stuff. However, when the young lady stepped to the microphone and started to belt out the national anthem, I noticed something. My grandmother was no longer mumbling unintelligibly, she was instead humming the National Anthem. The entire song, all the way through! To be honest, it was somewhat fascinating. While other skills and memories have faded, a song that she has probably sang since she was a child is still there.
All summer I’ve been saying that I would pick up some gospel DVD’s for her to watch (because she loves gospel music) and this experience has made me even more determined to go out this weekend and make it happen. However, I will say, that after tonight’s experience, I realize more that I don’t necessarily need DVD’s, I can dig through the millions of cassette tapes she has around the house and find something useful. That said, I encourage others to find out what kind of music their loved one enjoys and to figure out a way to let them hear it. You’d be surprised by the positive energy and clarity it might bring.
Music is such an incredibly meaningful part of our lives. Through research, I came across an awesome project called Music and Memory. I encourage you to explore the website. The site features a free download on how to set up a personalized playlist for your loved one, along with details about the project and the benefits of music for Alzheimer’s/Demntia patients. After seeing my grandmother’s reaction this evening, I personally think the project is genius!
Check out this awesome clip from the Music and Memory documentary, Alive Inside.