Meadows-Gallery-7-1024x682Alzheimer’s disease is typically automatically associated with our elders. This makes sense seeing as how only 4% of those diagnosed with the disease are under the age of 65. It’s the twenty somethings of the world though, who are up and coming caregivers of victims of Alzheimer’s and dementia. We all know there is no cure, but there may be something that can make the lives of everyone involved a little easier – music.

Manor-Gallery-3-1024x681Do you remember the scene in the Notebook when Allie starts playing the piano? The doctor seems surprised and comments that he had no idea Allie knew how to read music. Noah, her husband, says, “That she’s playing from memory.”

Real studies have proven that music – especially songs that someone has a strong emotional connection to – has the power to tap into different parts of the brain and even spark old memories. In addition, it can help facilitate positive interactions, reduce agitation, improve mood, and help those listening complete daily tasks. Music does the same thing for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

With the help of Sigma Alpha Iota, Theta Gamma, the UTSA chapter of an international music fraternity for women, Morningside Ministries, a local retirement home equipped with a memory care facility, recently became certified in a program called Music and Memory. Music and Memory is an organization that was founded on the belief that music has a unique, but significant ability to help a population that is sadly, too often forgotten by the rest of the world – our elders. They aim to provide training and support to nursing homes and memory care facilities who want to provide iPods with personalized playlists to their residents. Music & Memory provides 10 starter iPods for non-profit facilities.

Again, as a 22 year old who just graduated from college, I’m not likely to be diagnosed with any kind of dementia any time soon, but maybe my grandpa will. Maybe my parents will in the next twenty years. I hope that whether or not they are ever diagnosed with dementia, they have access to all the music they once knew and loved. I hope it will remind them of me and improve their quality of life. When my mom and dad listen to their wedding song, Te Amare by Jose Feliciano, they’ll remember the night they committed to spending the rest of their lives together. I have an incredible relationship with my parents. I hope that if they ever need to live in an assisted living facility, it will be somewhere like Morningside, where the dignity of residents comes first.

All of this got me thinking of what songs I would want to be on my playlist in my golden years and why.

Here’s part of the list I came up with.

Something in the Rain by Tish Hinojosa – to remind me of my dad and all of his hard work.

Cantaré, cantarás (I couldn’t track down the original artist) – to remind me of my mom and her dedication to helping young people through music.

When You Believe from The Prince of Egypt – to remind me of when I sang with my two sisters by my side.

Fix You by Coldplay (well, really all Coldplay songs because they’re the greatest band in the world) – to remind me of the best friends I’ve ever had.

Jason Evigan’s cover of Cinema – to remind me of my college sweetheart (future husband?).

Defying Gravity from Wicked – to remind me of my love of musical theatre and all the great shows I performed in and watched with family and beautiful friends.

Long Live by Taylor Swift – to remind me of my graduating high school class.

Hey There Delilah by The Plain White T’s – to remember all the simultaneous joy and heartache of a first love.

Would You Go with Me by Josh Turner – to remember the thrill of a crush and finding love all over again when you thought it would be impossible.

Somewhere Only We Know by Keane– to remind me of every second of it all – the people who loved and hurt me, the places I’ve been, the experiences I’ve had, and the beautiful blessing it all was.

If you’re looking for something to do on a budget, Morningside Ministries will be hosting a screening of the film, Alive Inside, a Sundance award winning film that follows the story of Music and Memory’s founding and incredible results, at the Santikos Palladium Theater. The event is completely free to the public and takes place Thursday, August 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. The director of the film will be present to answer questions and talk all about his experiences with Music and Memory. Just reserve your seats at this link: Also, watch the film’s trailer to get inspired here:

What songs would you want to be on your playlist?

*Images provided from Santikos Palladium and Morningside Ministries.