Hey there! Kim here. In the video below, I share with you a really cool story from my professional experience about how music makes a big difference in the lives of people with Alzheimer's. Watch as I tell you about how learning the life story of a person with dementia can give you a key to unlocking his memory and helping him have a profoundly positive emotional experience—even when he's at the very end stage of Alzheimer's disease.

I hope the story I share with you here helps you in your efforts to provide persons with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) with excellent care. Please join me in my mission to ensure that all persons with dementia experience joy and quality of life!

Oh and be sure to download our Life Story Questionnaire [PDF]. Whether you're a professional care partner or a family care partner, this excellent tool will help you ensure that the likes and interests of those you care for are encouraged and engaged.

Here's a transcript of "Music Matters for People With Alzheimer's":

Hey there! Kim here. I just wanted to say that I keep hearing more and more about how music—it makes a big difference in the lives of people with Alzheimer’s, even throughout the very later stages of the disease. And I just wanted to share a really cool story, I think, with you about that—from my own professional experience.

One time my colleague and I, Chris—we were consulting to an activity department at a nursing home. And we were teaching the activity staff how they could really awaken persons with Alzheimer’s, even at that very later end stage of the disease. 

So as we were teaching, we do what we always do—we ask the activities staff, “Tell us about this person—we need to learn something from their life story that’s really meaningful.”

So they told us that this gentleman used to be a big Chicago baseball fan. And, essentially he was at the ends stages of the disease and he was very hard to communicate with, he didn’t have the ability anymore to talk, and people were kind of challenged with how would they really reach him, and was he even reachable?

So Chris and I took that information from his life story about him being a baseball fan, and we went around and we got as many props as we could around that theme, and put a little baseball cap on him, and we started reminiscing—it started with talking about the names of all the old Chicago baseball players. So Chris and I were saying, to this gentleman, you know, “Do you remember Ron Santo and Glenn Beckert and Don Kessinger?” and we started naming all the old baseball players’ names. And he kinda, you know, opened his eyes, and you could tell he was listening, and then we ended this little reminiscence session by singing to him “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

And right in the middle of Chris and I singing to him, the tears started to run down his cheeks. Now I hope it wasn’t because we were bad singers. I really think it was because this man was still inside. And we had touched a memory for him—a very, very deep memory that was very preserved even though he has Alzheimer’s.

So we don’t know where he was in his mind and his heart at that point—whether he was thinking about throwing the ball to his son in front of their house, or attending a baseball game with his family—I don’t know. But clearly, even at that very end of life, he was still inside. And those precious memories that he had held onto all his life were still preserved in spite of being at the end of Alzheimer’s disease.

And it was the music—the music that he valued and that was deep inside of him—that awakened that precious memory.

So don’t stop using music to bring quality of life to persons with Alzheimer’s at all stages. It really, really does work. Have a good day.