Music and Memory

Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Shortly after my grandma went into the nursing home some of her family purchased a CD player for her. Others bought or rounded up good music CD’s. Grandma loved good music.

She liked watching some TV programs like the Hallmark Channel, but cataracts had made it almost impossible for her to enjoy. She loved to read, but once again her vision precluded that.

So, we got her music. She loved her music box and listened to it a lot. In fact, the nursing staff said she listened to it almost 24/7. She had many CD’s with old hymns and they were some of her favorites.

I asked her what singer she liked and she told me John Denver. She said he had such a nice voice, so easy to listen to. She especially liked Rocky Mountain High. I bought her a set of John Denver CD’s which I now have at my house. Now, every time I hear a John Denver song I think of Grandma.

If the music was going her feet were going too. Oh, not fast. She would just wiggle her toes back and forth to the music.

Bruce and I had the privilege of going with her to a church service at the nursing once when we were snowed in there in Broken Bow on our way home to SD. I don’t know the denomination, but their music was lovely. Grandma nodded along, and sang a little too. It was the highlight of her day.

Today I was reminded of this when I watched a show called Alive Inside-A Story of Music and Memory. It is a documentary I found on Netflix that speaks about the value of music in helping people with dementia keep their minds engaged. It was powerful. I was ready to jump into the car and go to the local nursing home to play the piano.

So many older people have so much to offer us, and yet they can’t interact with others to share that information. Or maybe they can, but we don’t take the time to listen. I’ve heard it over and over at work when I encourage my patients to share their stories with their families. “Oh, they don’t want to hear that!” I think many of us would love to hear about it, but it does take effort. And sometimes music.

I’m thinking I need to find a nursing home near my house and see if I can’t find another “grandma” or “grandpa” to visit and sing with. How about you?

For more information about the music and memory program and how you can help get iPods to seniors, go to I hope you  enjoy this amazing video demonstrating the power of music to help those suffering from dementia.