Oct 12, 2011

Alzheimer's Caretaking, Singing as a Catalyst of Thought and Happiness

It seems to me that music, song, and singing can be keys to unlocking the joy and happiness that resides within persons living with dementia.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's Caretaking, Singing as a Catalyst of Thought and Happiness
The Bluebird of
Happiness
Last night I put up a podcast and Dotty sang, Shine on Harvest Moon.

The podcast brought a wonderful reaction from readers, so thank you for the comments and emails.

The entire episode from the Hunter's Moon to the recording was enlightening and thought provoking for me.


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When we started singing the song in the car after looking at the moon, Dotty could only get a few of the words. We sang it many times while we were in the car.

When we arrived home I decided to write about the experience. In the first version of the article, I was lamenting the fact that I didn't have a recorder with me so I had no tangible record of the experience. When I finished writing I was going to put up the Laurel and Hardy version of the song. It is very entertaining.

However, I was dissatisfied. It was then that I noticed that every time I played the YouTube video of the song, Dotty would start singing the song. She was sitting about 15 feet from the computer. I thought, she is getting better every time.

It was at that point that I decided to try and make a podcast.

I put the headphones on Dotty and had her sing along with Laurel. At first I thought, this is how I am going to do it. I'll let her sing along.

For some reason I decided to see if she could sing on her own. All I had to do is sing the first words and Dotty would start singing. I was surprised, she was doing a good rendition of the core part of the song. And, she was doing it without hearing or reading the words, she was doing it all on her own.

If you listen to the podcast you will here me start Dotty up, and from that point on it is all Dotty on her own.

I decided to find out when the song was written and first performed. In the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908. The song was an instant hit. It was performed in 1932 in a short film, Shine on Harvest Moon. In 1938 it was the title of a Roy Rogers film. The song has been featured in dozens of movies over the last 100 years. This explains in part why we all know it.

It is a lovely song. Sounds funny having me describe a song as lovely.

And now to my point.

The fact that Dotty could sing on her own, the entire core part of the song proves this -- its still in there folks. It is still in her brain.

Now Dotty is pretty far along. Certainly well beyond the moderate stage according to the tests. But, there is still information in her brain from days long gone by.

Dotty can't tell you much of anything that just happened right now. But, she can still sing Shine on Harvest Moon.

Last night taught me that I should make a greater effort to bring out what is hidden in Dotty's brain. What is stored in Dotty's brain.

It seems to me that music, song, and singing can be keys to unlocking the joy and happiness that resides within persons living with dementia.

Dotty was clearly happy, laughing and smiling. I was and am very happy. Just thinking about how Dotty looked last night is very pleasant.

And, those of you that took the time to listen are happy.

Let there be music. song, and singing. Let the happiness begin. Let the happiness come out into the light.

Shine on.



Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,910 articles with more than 652,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.


Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room