Music sets the tone for memory/dementia

April 5, 2016

Andrew Villegas/Tejano Tribune

Work study student Ari Montes, a business major, cleaning a microscope.  


Learning about dementia is difficult but watching a documentary about it may help.


On Friday April 1, Biology club held a movie screening of the documentary "Alive Inside," with information on elderly care and dementia following the movie showing. 


Jessica Nelson, president of the Biology Club at EPCC and the treasurer of Teen Survivor, worked with Student Life and Leadership to host a movie viewing of the 2014 documentary, “Alive Inside”, directed by Dan Cohen and Michael Rossato-Bennette. 


The viewing took place in the EPCC Valle Verde annex at 10a.m. on Friday April 1.


There were also several companies who were set up along the annex wall that were offering senior care services, passing out coffee and donuts, water bottles and book bags, or pens to whoever walked by at the event. 


The documentary focuses on the study of how music can help to bring back memories for those suffering from dementia or other mental issues. 


“The documentary will take you through how lifeless elders are when they're living in a nursing home,” said Nelson, “especially those with dementia.  A lot of them just get dropped off and forgotten and their families don't come regularly and they die alone.”


Cohen founded Music in Memory, a non-profit organization that focuses on making sure every elderly person with dementia has their own personal music.


“This organization stepped in and said, ‘That is not acceptable’ and they are doing more one on one, finding out what their individual music is,” said Nelson.


When you listen to music it goes into your auditory system first, then emotions, and then into memories,” she continues “If you know anything about dementia, especially Alzheimer, it eats away your brain to where you lose your humanity, who you used to be.” 


“The music can help bring them back to who they used to be,” said Nelson. 


Nelson is not only passionate about raising awareness dementia, but elder care as well.


“There is no reason for an elder to be dropped off and forgotten.  Nobody wants to be left there to just rot and that's what this documentary really shows, how alive they become.”


As long as you know what music they grew up with, you may trigger an emotional response where they may cry, but it might have been their wedding song and here they are 90 years old and recalling when they got married.”    


After Nelson graduates in May, she plans to move to Oregon where she will continue her studies of germatology at Western Oregon University.


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