Old hits against dementia

Old hits against dementia

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Dementia: pop songs awaken memories

It has long been known that music can have a positive effect on the brain. In dementia patients, pieces of music from previous years often awaken memories that were believed to have been forgotten and not infrequently they begin to sing along, even though their language skills were hardly available in everyday life. The music project "Sound and Life" for people with dementia starts here and tries to wake up the memories of the elderly with its old hits when it performs in retirement homes.

In December, “Klang und Leben” was at the Kursana domicile in Buchholz (Harburg district) and played old hits such as “Capri-Fischer”, “Can love be a sin?” Or “Without a crime story, the Mimi never goes to bed”, reports the Kursana Residenzen GmbH. Right from the first song ("You're lucky with women, Bel Ami") the spark jumped and many started singing along - despite their dementia. Here it becomes clear how the music awakens memories and thus a piece can improve the lifestyle of dementia patients.

Dementia sufferers sing old hits with initiators of the music project were the rock musician Rainer Schumann (ex-drummer for "Fury in the Slaughterhouse") and the dementia coach Graziano Zampolin. Oliver Perau (former singer of the Hanover band Terry Hoax) also attended the performance in Bucholz. When he tuned in to the hit "Bel Ami" from the 1930s at the concert in the Kursana domicile in Buchholz, many of the seniors could have singed along every line even after decades - "and that despite the fact that some of them are now demented," said the Notification from Kursana Residenzen GmbH. For around a year and a half, “Sound and Life” has been touring professional institutions with senior citizens to awaken the memories of dementia patients with familiar melodies and singing lessons and to improve their attitude towards life. Music instead of pills is the motto of Graziano Zampolin.

Old memories are awakened According to the musicians, the effects of the performances on the residents are quite convincing. "It is always a miracle to see how our listeners blossom through music," emphasizes Rainer Schumann. For example, “someone who no longer speaks suddenly sings entire verses. Or a man who has forgotten that he once played the guitar uses the instrument again with us, ”reports the project initiator. These are very moving moments. Last year “Klang und Leben” gave more than 60 concerts, 13 of them in senior institutions of the Kursana Residenz GmbH. "But nowhere else were people so happy to sing as here in Buchholz", Oliver Perau emphasized the good mood at the last concert of the year.

Soundtrack of life According to Graziano Zampolin, "everyone has a soundtrack of their life", in which certain events "like first love or nice trips are usually connected with certain songs". This also applies to the resident Hannelore Ollrogge (85), who was even asked to dance to the hit "Tell me quando, tell me when ..." by Graziano Zampolin. She remembers that she went to dance a lot with her husband in the 1950s. "The war was finally over, life was fun again," Ollrogge is quoted in the press release from Kursana Residenzen GmbH. The family and work commitments were added later, so that there was not much time left to dance. "It is good to be reminded of this carefree time," reports the elderly woman. "We have already been able to collect many positive examples of how music awakens feelings and can sustainably support biographical memory work," explains Graziano Zampolin.

Improved motor skills, increasing awareness of life The music project "Sound and Life" is scientifically supported by Professor Eckart Altenmüller from the Hanover Music University. "With around 50 test subjects so far, we have found great effects in mood and motor skills," quotes the "Berliner Morgenpost" the music professor. The nursing staff recorded the behavior of the residents at the events using questionnaires. The spokesman for the German Alzheimer Society, Hans-Jürgen Freter, was also convinced of the positive effects of the music, according to the newspaper. It is astonishing that older people sometimes cannot even remember their breakfast, but they remember stanzas of the songs of their lives. "Therapies with music, movement and dancing are definitely a way to stimulate the sick mentally and physically and thus be able to penetrate their feelings," quotes the "Berliner Morgenpost" Hans-Jürgen Freter. It is about the quality of life of people and not to leave them alone, Freter continues.

The guests of the event in Bucholz expressed their enthusiasm at the end of the concert with long applause and finally Oliver Perau sang "Bel Ami" as a third encore. In view of the clearly visible success of the project, its initiators now want to found an academy in Hanover to pass on their experience to people in social and nursing professions. (fp)

Image: Daniel Hajduk / pixelio.de

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