Give the Gift of Music

ipod_music and memoryWhatever happened to the mix tape? Time was that when a boy liked a girl he’d make her a cassette tape ofsongs to tell her how much he liked her, and, hopefully, sway her into liking him back. (For more on this, see the movie “High Fidelity.”)

Fifty years later, the children of that same girl – now suffering from Alzheimer’s and memory loss – might find and play that tape for their mother. Suddenly the slumped and incommunicative woman before them starts to tap her toes and smile. She lifts her head and starts talking, recalling the boy who gave her the tape. Mom is back!

Music’s seemingly miraculous effect on people suffering from memory loss is documented in the film “Alive Inside.” The documentary follows Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights the healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a sense of self to those with memory loss. The movie examines why musical memories stick when everything else seems to slip away.

Maybe you’ve had the experience where a parent can’t remember your name, but can still remember the lyrics to a favorite pop song. If so, you know the magical powers of music.

Which brings me to my point:If you’re stumped on what to get Gramps this year, why not give him an iPod and a playlist of his personal favorites? If an iPod is out of the question, make him a “mix CD” of his favorite oldies. This gift takes time and thought to create, and will show him you really care. It’s a gift that will give have him tapping his toes – and maybe even singing — long into the New Year.

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