Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Bringing Back What Was “Lost”
A hospice volunteer, Anne Huffman, was keeping vigil at the bedside of a dying woman. Seeing the Bible at the patient's bedside, Anne began reading it aloud and then singing "Amazing Grace" softly. The woman, who previously had been non-communicative, responded. The patient died later that night, but a spark was born that day in Anne.
The spark was fanned when, in a subsequent training offered by the TLC program of hospice, Anne viewed the DVD, Alive Inside, and saw that her experience was not an anomaly. The organization Music & Memory has been making the lives of persons living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, brain trauma, ALS, MS, and Parkinson's Disease better through individualized music playlists since 2006 in the U.S. and Canada.
Anne's fire grew through her church, where the congregation provided the funding and several members stepped up to help her, including the "tech guy" and two other women who each serve the patients in two local facilities, as does Anne, who also speaks to groups about the program, again fanning the flames.
For Anne, watching eyes light up and years melt away is her reward as she consistently sees patients suffering from both the disease and the ensuing isolation "awaken" in response to the music they remember.
But she also knows that the benefits of supplying individualized playlists to patients go beyond the specific person. With the resulting lessening of anxiety and agitation that often accompany this stage of life and the increasing social interaction and ability to converse that patients can experience, the atmosphere for all in the facility changes for the better. Families are also less stressed.
The Music & Memory organization provides, in conjunction with iTunes Plus and Apple, all that is needed to set up a program, including the guidelines for the legal use of the music.
For more information, visit musicandmemory.org.
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