Alzheimer’s Speaks through Music
Igniting What’s Possible & Sparking Lives
Author: Jennifer Anderson, Consultant
When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the idea of a normal, purposeful life can seem impossible. With dementia, victims can be slowly robbed of their memories, their identity, their purpose, and their passion. Dementia is often described as the “slow goodbye” and is as difficult for the family as it is for the individual diagnosed. After a recent diagnosis, Beverly Urness and her daughter Karen wanted to challenge the norm and preserve as much as they could, for as long as they could.
When a move to a memory care facility was imminent, Karen wanted support that would keep her mother’s memories and identity alive. She found it at Summit Place, a SilverCrest Property partnering with Lifesprk. Together, Silvercrest and Lifesprk believe that igniting what’s possible in every client’s life is essential to creating a powerful, meaningful experience regardless of diagnosis or prognosis. The goal is to create a “spark” for people in the second half of life. They do so by discovering one’s needs and wishes, prioritizing what’s important, and then creating and implementing a plan so that sparks can fly.
Beverly’s “spark” was not hard to uncover – she has a profound love for music and sharing it with others. Over the past 40 years, Beverly taught piano lessons to over 100 students, with as many as 25 to 30 at one time. Her daughter Karen was one of her students and commented, “Mom will teach anyone who will sit down with her on the piano bench.” Beverly proves this theory when Amber Daggs, Lifesprk Life Care Manager, brings her children into work. Beverly takes time with each child teaching them the fundamentals of piano while demonstrating patience, discipline, and fun. Sharing her talent and knowledge with others provides her with purpose and brings out the best in her. This is what a sparked life looks like!
On May 14th, Beverly made her public musical debut at Summit Place. She performed several songs from memory and lead a sing-along with her neighbors. The place was filled with abundant joy and glorious music. Often times, music provides another form of communication when the spoken word may not be possible for those with dementia. Music Therapist Dan Anderson said, “Songs and their memories are like jumpstarting a car. Sometimes it takes a bit to recollect it, but once you remember the song, it can trigger many memories.”
Familiar songs resonating the living room that day including This Land is Your Land, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, America the Beautiful, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and Beverly’s favorite – Happy Birthday.When people applauded her and provided compliments, Beverly responded, “Thank you, but you’re looking at a novice.”
Beverly’s love for music coupled with a commitment from Lifesprk and Silvercrest to ignite what’s possible in people in the second half of life, is allowing her to keep her memories, purpose, passion, and identity alive. Beverly will be sharing her talents every week at Summit Place by performing, giving lessons, and leading sing alongs. Old memories are making new memories! Play on Beverly, Play on!
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