Reaching Alzheimer's patients through music

Reaching Alzheimer's patients through music

Reaching patients with Alzheimer's disease is sometimes a difficult thing to do. But a new kind of therapy is showing that music can help trigger memories and unlock personalities.

At the music dance therapy class, Harrison Terrace residents like Charles Allenworth have some sort of memory-related dementia or Alzheimer's. Domoniquie Davis, who helps care for Charles, says when class starts, he lights up.

"It triggers something from his past, so it's something that he likes, so when he comes out here, he is, like, shaking his groove thing," Davis said.

Instructor Dana Hart repeats simple patterns for the class to memorize.

"They are getting more confident, they are willing to try more things, they are willing to get on their feet more," Hart said.

She incorporates shaking, twisting and bending - or residents can do their own thing.

"I like it," Charles said.

Teri House brought the program to Harrison Terrace on the east side a few months ago and has discovered benefits extend to residents' families, too.

"It's so sad and depressing to see that person slipping away, especially if they don't really have a physical impairment and they look fine. It's just the person they used to be isn't there anymore," House said. "So any spark that brings any of that back is just a blessing to the family member."

Tim Lange is Charles' friend and appreciates the glimpses of joy.

"It's something about the sound, it's something about just praising, it's something's something about just having fun," Lange said.

Charles has fond memories of choir and after class, the lyrics came back.

If your family is facing dementia issues with a family member, you may be interested in two free information sessions this Saturday during the WTHR/American Senior Communities Senior Health Fair. The sessions are at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. and you can learn the 10 signs of Alzheimer's and talk with memory care specialists.

The health fair runs from 9 a.m. until noon at Community East Hospital.