Good Life

Helping Hands: Music can have powerful effect on memory

You are with your family member when the neurologist walks into the room, face drawn. She says, “No matter how many times I share this news it becomes no less difficult. You have Alzheimer’s disease.” Treatments are few and far between and don’t yet address many of the most challenging symptoms. You wonder what to do.

One powerful way to aid those with Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illnesses of aging is through music. A familiar tune has the power to move our souls, lift our spirits and help us recollect good times with friends and family. Just how powerful an effect does music have on these listeners?

The film “Alive Inside” illustrates the extraordinary, palpable difference that providing music played via iPods made in the lives of people living with Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. So too, “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” exhibits the significant effect that music can have on the life of a person living with Alzheimer’s disease (and his or her family).

“I’ll Be Me” chronicles Campbell’s final tour, which he and his family embarked on after he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Foxdale Village and Northwest Bank hosted a community screening of this moving film at the State Theatre in June.

Foxdale Village therapeutic recreation staff member Lora Herbst studied music therapy and brings the joy of music to residents living in the memory care neighborhoods. Herbst notes that “every day can hold a joyful surprise as residents continue to respond to music throughout the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Herbst also indicates that “playing some relaxing piano music enhances the calm and soothing atmosphere, which helps reduce the agitation often experienced by memory-impaired individuals. Recorded swing music of the Big Band era provides motivation for simple exercise. Residents may sing and celebrate when they hear familiar songs, or recall memories that arouse tender feelings that would otherwise not have a voice.”

Because of its commitment to provide care, education and the highest quality of life for all, Foxdale has made a donation to support the research of Gong Chen, Willaman chair in life sciences at Penn State, who is investigating the potential for brain repair.

These are just some of the ways in which Foxdale offers helping hands to our residents and those in our community.

To learn more about Foxdale Village or ask questions about this information please contact Libby Mortensen, Foxdale’s director of residency planning and marketing, at 272-2119 or