Photo: Xavier Ryan, 2014

Photo: Xavier Ryan, 2014

We are one week out from Christmas now. The cards are out and most of the shopping is done. I still have cookies to bake and a Christmas Eve meal to plan. There is an on-going battle to keep Maggie and Millie (my 9 month old kittens) out of the tree. I’m losing. Being drenched by a water bottle or having a can of coins shaken at them fazes them little. They are junkyard-tough, little kitties

I wondered if in the run up to Christmas, there was anything I could offer that would be useful. Upon reflection, I have come across something that might be. My life with its ups and downs, pales to those who are dealing with serious illnesses. Recently, I watched a movie called Alive Inside. It deals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Music therapy has been found to be very successful at reaching those who have become withdrawn especially as memory seems to fade. Music stimulates more parts of the brain than anything else and it can bring back connections thought long gone. The problem is that not many people know about it and most nursing facilities don’t offer it. The best kind of music for this purpose is something from an individual’s past, something that makes an emotional connection, something from childhood or early adult years.

So during the holidays, if you are visiting someone with dementia, especially those who are withdrawn, please consider bringing the gift of music into their lives. Forgo the cookies, candy, flowers, or hand-knitted scarves. Take an iPod, CD player, etc. and offer the gift of music to those who are in need of connection.

Here’s the movie trailer. You can watch the full movie on Netflix.

For more information:


Filed under brain science, healing, health

35 responses to “THE GIFT OF MUSIC

  1. Music of all genres bring so much joy to so many! Classical music is special above many for its longevity.

  2. I try to think if there is any other gift i was evr given, than my innate appreciation for music. Indeed music has been my permanent friend: many relations I may have gone into and out of, but music never left my side.
    So i enjoyed reading your story!
    When one keeps music close to heart, one walks in harmony!
    Thank You!

  3. I agree that music is a great source of healing. This is not only true for people with dementia and other illnesses, but it is true for people who have suffered abuse, mental illness, and any other trials in their lives. I found music to be a wonderful source of healing in my own life. Thank God for the gift of music.

  4. I am a member of a ‘silver singers’ group and find singing energising. The different leaders we’ve had all refer to it in the context of dementia too. Thanks for checking out my blog.

  5. This is a timely and thoughtful post. So many families are facing this – friend of ours has early onset dementia.
    Thank you for stopping by my blog!

  6. Thank you for this wonderful post!

  7. Keeping kittens out of a Christmas tree is not easy. It doesn’t get any easier as they grow up, but after awhile it becomes ho-hum for them.

    Happy New Year!

  8. Vanessa Nicole

    My Great Aunt is 91 and is starting to show early signs of dementia. This is a great idea as she is alone a lot of the time. Music is a perfect gift. My boyfriend and I went to see Messiah performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and it truly brought joy to my life. Music opens the mind and helps with concentration. Thank you for the reminder and I hope all of our lives are blessed with music.

    Without Music Life Would Be a Mistake

    Happy New Years! Enjoy Every Day 🙂

  9. A friend of mine whose mother had dementia said that her appreciation and memory for music was the last thing to go. She wouldn’t remember most things, but could still sing along to childhood hymns. Nice gift suggestion.

  10. So true. As chaplain in a retirement community I often saw first hand the power of music for residents. Some propose that we are basically made up of molecules vibrating in motion. Is it any wonder then that music would speak to us at a deep, non-verbal level?

  11. Carley

    Junkyard tough haha love that! Xx

  12. A lovely post! and a Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones 🙂

  13. Josephine Michael

    Ah, you’ve got a really interesting blog site here, Ellis. I’ve started to study meta health, which is based on German New Medicine. It explains that all dis-ease is based on conflict trauma that, left unresolved, creates dis-ease. The body is incredibly intelligent and can heal itself. I was resistant to meta health as a framework, but, as students, you’re encouraged to try to disprove it. It’s accurate and helps to identify what the trauma was that caused the dis-ease in the body in the first place. There’s also an intuitive healer, who went to Peru to be taught by the Incas, who says that sound healing will be very important as the earth and its people heal. I think she might have called it simatics(?). The vibration of sound will be resonating within us, no doubt bringing moments of lucidity. Enjoy your kittens 🙂

    • Interesting, I’ve never heard of German New Medicine. I know some regard any imbalance in the body as dis-ease producing (Eastern traditions). There is also a tradition of sound healing in Tibetan medicine using singing bowls. Mantras could also be thought of as vibration and have healing ability. It will be wonderful to see these modalities take hold in the west. We need more options and less pill popping. The kittens are leaving the tree intact but have adopted a game of Santa tipping and white beard chewing. I need an Elf on the Shelf to keep an eye on them.

  14. This was wonderful. I’d read of it before, but seeing Henry come alive and sing like that was heart warming and encouraging that people can be offered fulfillment in their lives in such a simple and remarkable manner.

    • For about $80 a senior can have music but in the movie, there’s an MD who talks about being able to write scripts for thousands of dollars with no one batting an eye, but to get an iPod for someone is an uphill battle. I’m sure you’ve seen it. This has to change.

  15. Amanda

    My dad is concerned about my grandmother. He thinks she’s starting to develop Alzheimer’s as she is forgetting things that should be in her short term memory. I will have to let him know about this and maybe he and my stepmom can use this in the future!

  16. My dad succumbed to Alzheimer’s a couple years ago. He was 94. Your post hits home because when I put on music for him, the Brazilian stuff he’d always loved and the tunes from the 40s would always improve his mood and his ability to respond. He would have more frequent periods of lucidity. He’d say things like: “I can’t remember where I heard this, but I like it.”

    Great post. Thanks.

  17. Classic music really helps us to memorise better.
    Some melody can help us recall what we seem to forget.
    Of course, it help us relax. It is so closed as silence too.

    Keep posting your great thought.
    Jade the Mystic

  18. I know someone with an elderly parent who has coincidentally stumbled upon this without realizing it or understanding why. I shall have to speak with him about this. Thank you, and may your most serious fight over the holidays be with your kitties!

  19. Reblogged this on Sharron Grodzinsky Author and commented:
    In our busy life, we need to take time to really think what others may be enduring.

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