Senior Living

By Robert McCoppin Chicago Tribune A n audience of patients with Alzheimer’s disease listens in rapt attention as a young woman sings the French song “Beau Soir.” Despite his failing mind, one of the men in the crowd, Les Dean, translates the words into English for a friend. “See how the setting sun paints a river with roses,” he whispers. “Tremulous vision floats over fields of grain.” And when the audience joins in a singalong on another tune, Dean’s voice rumbles in a resonant baritone, “Take my hand, I’m a stranger in para- dise. All lost in a wonderland, a stranger in paradise.” Dean, 76, once taught music at Chicago’s Senn High School, invented and sold his own music education system and sang with the Chicago Sym- phony Chorus. Now, like many patients with Alzheimer’s, he is to some extent lost in the past, a stranger to the present. He asks a visitor, “How are the chil- dren?” Five minutes later, he asks again, and again, unable to recall the question or the answer. But when the music plays, he smiles, and is trans- ported to a place of beauty, where everything still makes sense. In recent years, music therapy has grown in popular- ity for its seeming ability to help calm people with dementia and reconnect them with their memories. Now a Northwestern University researcher is testing whether music played for residents of a suburban nursing home can be therapeu- tic, whether it can improve cognition, conversation and relationships. As the number of dementia patients grows — to nearly one in three seniors by the time of death — advocates hope to get insurance and Medicare to extend music therapy to everyone who could benefit from it. In the process, caregivers whose parents or partners have grown distant, confused and agitated are finding new ways to share meaningful moments with the ones they love. A person with dementia can recede so far that he or she is no longer responsive, suggesting personality and consciousness have been lost. But in his book “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain,” the renowned late neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote that he’d seen such patients shiver or weep while listening to music. “Once one has seen such responses,” he wrote, “one knows that there is still a self to be called upon, even if music, and only music, can do the calling.” Research has suggested benefits frommusic therapy for people with autism, depression, schizophrenia, brain injuries and cancer. Newborns in intensive care have been found to gain weight faster when exposed to music. For people recovering from a stroke, the rhythm of music can help them regain their gait. Those with aphasia, who’ve lost the ability to speak, sometimes can sing familiar songs, and some can eventually be taught to transition from singing to talking. Such therapy, known as melodic intonation treatment, was used to help Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords recover her speech after she was shot in the head. Researchers suspect this may be particularly useful for patients with damage to the left side of the brain, because music emphasizes use of the right side of the brain, provid- ing a potential alternate route to develop new nerve pathways. For some people with dementia, music therapy has been shown to enhance atten- tion and cognition, to improve behavior while reducing the use BILL PAY... MAKES PAYING ANYONE A BREEZE! Bill Pay... designed for you! Now you can electronically pay your bills without the hassle of sorting through statements, writing checks and paying for postage. After a few quick set- up steps you’ll have full access to your biller list, payment history, pending payments and bill reminders. It also assures you your bills will be paid on the date they give to you! It’s Fast With Bill Pay you can set up recurring payments and receive eBills as soon as they are posted. It’s Easy Pay a bill by selecting your biller, entering an amount and selecting a payment date. 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We will depart from Grand Island on Friday, October 12th and overnight at The Isle Casino Hotel in Bettendorf, Iowa. Saturday, we will motorcoach into Evanston for the game (11 a.m.) and enjoy an all you can eat, catered, tailgate party following the game. Saturday night we will stay at The Isle Casino Hotel once more before departing for home on Sunday! This trip will fill up quickly so call and reserve your space today. 2015 N. Broadwell Avenue 3111 West Stolley Park Road 2009 N. Diers Avenue 518 N. Eddy Street 308-384-5350 The Grand Island Independent THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2018 6A SENIOR LIVING TNS/Chicago Tribune, Chris Sweda Vocalist Karen Archbold (left) enjoys the solo by Silverado Memory Care resident Les Dean during a concert for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s earlier this spring. At right is music therapist Amanda Ziemba. MUSIC Tunes can call back loved ones lost in Alzheimer’s darkness ■ turn to ALZHEIMER’S , page 7A