Our September feature article by Kathleen Barnes, “Music as Medicine: Music Soothes, Energizes and Heals Us,” reminds me of the times I’ve been blessed to witness the healing power of music for those navigating the realm of dementia. For several years I watched the mental and emotional decline of a good friend’s mother, amazed at the transformation that would happen whenever we played old familiar tunes for her. It was a boon we could count on. Whether she was feeling frustrated, agitated or distant, music was the one thing that always brought her back for a few precious moments.
One particularly heartwarming visit was when we arrived to pick her up to venture out for a joyride and found her staring blankly out the window of a common room. Up until that point it had been relatively easy to coax her into some conversation, but this day she seemed farther away and it felt like a tipping point.
Knowing how much this dear one loved music, my friend pulled out her phone and started a playlist that clearly took her mom back to the days of her youth, socializing over drinks with endless nights filled with dancing. In no time at all, she was on her feet and mother and daughter were dancing up a storm. The smiles and giggles that quickly ensued had mom bending over with one hand over her mouth holding in the laughter and the other holding her belly. That experience proved to be a pivot point for me, providing enough evidence to show that music has the power to heal our soul.
These days I only listen to songs that take me to or keep me in a happy place. Whether it’s dancing to 70s funk, moving about the living room in the middle of a workday with my good friend and part-time helper or driving to the beach singing and dancing in my seat looking like a crazy person, music stirs my soul and brings much joy to this life. May we all feel the music when we need it most!
Maisie Raftery, Publisher