Tapping the Power of Music for Individuals with Alzheimer's Disease

Drummer Mickey Hart Relays Personal Experience in Vantage(TM)



Apr 05, 2005, 01:00 ET from Alzheimer's Foundation of America

    NEW YORK, April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame percussionist
 Mickey Hart remembered that his grandmother loved watching him perform as a
 drummer with the Grateful Dead. So when she was in the advanced stages of
 Alzheimer's disease, Hart decided to give her a "private concert" -- in his
 Porsche on the back roads of California. After he tapped his drums for about
 15 minutes, the elderly woman, who had not spoken for more than six months,
 looked at him and said, "Mickey."
     Hart's recalled this experience in the spring 2005 issue of Vantage(TM), a
 quarterly publication of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America that is
 uniquely geared to caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and
 related illnesses.
     Hart's personal family experience and subsequent research into drumming
 convinced him that music therapy is a necessity for people with Alzheimer's
 disease.
     "It is like the air they breathe ... Rhythm connects with your being in
 the disconnect of Alzheimer's disease. It connects to something that makes you
 feel good, and it enhances lifestyle and quality of life," he wrote in the
 magazine's guest column.
     In another article in the latest issue of Vantage(TM), renowned music
 therapist Alicia Ann Clair, director of the Division of Music Education and
 Music Therapy at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, confirmed the
 increasing usage of music as a therapeutic tool for persons with dementia.
     According to Clair, "Music, especially rhythm playing and singing, can
 spark compelling outcomes even in the very late stages of Alzheimer's disease.
 When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced
 agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and
 coordinate motor movements."
     The article offers tips on how to engage people in music based on their
 skills intact at different phases of the disease process. For example, in the
 early stages, caregivers can encourage someone to sound the trumpet or tap
 piano keys again; in the middle stages, they can play music or sing as the
 individual is walking to improve balance or gait; and in the late stages, they
 can do sing-alongs of tunes sung by rote in that person's generation.
     The latest issue of Vantage(TM) also looks at the positive effects of
 physical and mental exercise on memory function; new brain imaging techniques
 that may lead to earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease; and coping with
 family dynamics in the face of this brain disorder.
     AFA introduced Vantage(TM) in August to specifically explore medical,
 behavioral and practical issues from the vantage point of dementia caregivers.
 Articles are available online at http://www.afa-vantage.com. For a free
 subscription, visit http://www.afa-vantage.com or call 866-AFA-8484.
 
     AFA is a national nonprofit organization focused on "together for care ...
 in addition to cure" for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related
 illnesses, and their families. Its services include a toll-free hotline,
 counseling by certified social workers, educational materials, referrals to
 local resources nationwide, and professional training.  For information, visit
 http://www.alzfdn.org or call 866-AFA-8484.
 
 

SOURCE Alzheimer's Foundation of America
    NEW YORK, April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame percussionist
 Mickey Hart remembered that his grandmother loved watching him perform as a
 drummer with the Grateful Dead. So when she was in the advanced stages of
 Alzheimer's disease, Hart decided to give her a "private concert" -- in his
 Porsche on the back roads of California. After he tapped his drums for about
 15 minutes, the elderly woman, who had not spoken for more than six months,
 looked at him and said, "Mickey."
     Hart's recalled this experience in the spring 2005 issue of Vantage(TM), a
 quarterly publication of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America that is
 uniquely geared to caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and
 related illnesses.
     Hart's personal family experience and subsequent research into drumming
 convinced him that music therapy is a necessity for people with Alzheimer's
 disease.
     "It is like the air they breathe ... Rhythm connects with your being in
 the disconnect of Alzheimer's disease. It connects to something that makes you
 feel good, and it enhances lifestyle and quality of life," he wrote in the
 magazine's guest column.
     In another article in the latest issue of Vantage(TM), renowned music
 therapist Alicia Ann Clair, director of the Division of Music Education and
 Music Therapy at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, confirmed the
 increasing usage of music as a therapeutic tool for persons with dementia.
     According to Clair, "Music, especially rhythm playing and singing, can
 spark compelling outcomes even in the very late stages of Alzheimer's disease.
 When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced
 agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and
 coordinate motor movements."
     The article offers tips on how to engage people in music based on their
 skills intact at different phases of the disease process. For example, in the
 early stages, caregivers can encourage someone to sound the trumpet or tap
 piano keys again; in the middle stages, they can play music or sing as the
 individual is walking to improve balance or gait; and in the late stages, they
 can do sing-alongs of tunes sung by rote in that person's generation.
     The latest issue of Vantage(TM) also looks at the positive effects of
 physical and mental exercise on memory function; new brain imaging techniques
 that may lead to earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease; and coping with
 family dynamics in the face of this brain disorder.
     AFA introduced Vantage(TM) in August to specifically explore medical,
 behavioral and practical issues from the vantage point of dementia caregivers.
 Articles are available online at http://www.afa-vantage.com. For a free
 subscription, visit http://www.afa-vantage.com or call 866-AFA-8484.
 
     AFA is a national nonprofit organization focused on "together for care ...
 in addition to cure" for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related
 illnesses, and their families. Its services include a toll-free hotline,
 counseling by certified social workers, educational materials, referrals to
 local resources nationwide, and professional training.  For information, visit
 http://www.alzfdn.org or call 866-AFA-8484.
 
 SOURCE  Alzheimer's Foundation of America