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Published on: November 28, 2014
If you have an aging parent, you may want to put headphones on the top of your Christmas list by the end of this story.
There’s a powerful connection between music and memory. So much so, there’s a program named just that — hoping to transform lives.
It’s tough to have a conversation with Socorro Kennedy, better knows as Miss Cora. She’s 90 with dementia and often sits quietly all day.
That is, until the music in a pair of ear phones is turned on.
“She comes alive when you put that music on, from her toes to the top of her head,” Naomi Mathes said.
The oldies playing are specifically researched and chosen for her, based on family interviews. Then they’re tested and a full playlist is set.
“When you can no longer reach them with words, you can reach them with music,” Mathes said.
Mathes is part of the Juliette Fowler Communities. She says music primes your brain to get active again.
“Music is one of the last things to leave that is connected with emotions and memories and is stored in multiple parts of the brain,” she said.
Listening to music stimulates Cora’s brain so much, she now responds to conversations. She even speaks full, recognizable words.
Although Cora wants more, Mathes said they have to limit her time with music or she will wear herself out.
Mathes says the ear phones are key. Blaring the music on a speaker comes with too many distractions and doesn’t have the same affect.
With headphones, Cora gets lost in the moment — proving that there’s much joy left to share — thanks to every beat, tap and clap.
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