Music Therapy and Recreation.
Music, especially live, well played piano music, has an extraordinary effect on people with ALZHEIMER’S condition, and on people suffering from depression or disorientation. Many of the aged whom we find spending their last years in rest or nursing homes get a sense of joy when listening to pleasant music, or when singing themselves. This joy which is experienced through music affects the brain and the emotions, as we all know, but this joy can have a remarkable effect on people with alzheimer’s. I have seen many people recover from loss of memory through music as recreation and therapy.
Many of these people, I feel, have had their mental and emotional condition made worse because of a traumatic change resulting from quitting a life of independent living and having had to leave familiar surroundings, possessions, family and friends. This physical dislocation from known surroundings is accompanied by a type of “spiritual dislocation”, which is often the cause of an apparent decline in mental health and which is sometimes mistaken for Alzheimer’s.
The new home environment creates a stress because of the need to adapt to an alien surrounding where nothing is to be found in its old, familiar place. This in itself can affect memory and brain function adversely, as well as emotions.
The new environment the aged often find themselves in reduces mental effort and activity, not only because the outer visual and social world has become more reduced and confining, but because decision making on all areas of day to day living is now done by nurses, care-givers, cooks, cleaners, doctors, and, usually invisible, body corporate people.
Of course, it is usually a blessing to be taken care of, so beautifully and without worry, by the many excellent staff, but many residents of the rest or nursing home, in submitting to an imposed domestic regime which dictates almost everything from what you have for breakfast to the afternoon film which is shown in the lounge, give up the “joie de vivre” and retire within themselves.
The resulting condition of submission and feeling of abandonment can affect even the healthiest mind, but whether Alzheimer’s is truly the cause of disorientation, or whether a like condition has manifested perhaps because of new and imposed conditions, is irrelevant, because music reaches almost everybody in the rest home environment.