Family uses music to connect with mother suffering from dementia

Emeryville — What started as children playing music for their mother has evolved into a regular community event in the East Bay in hopes of keeping her failing memory fresh.

The event will be held at Watermark by the Bay, a seniors facility in Emeryville. The impact is severe.

“Sing it, love it, love it, love it!” enthusiastic resident Cathy Soucet.

Music is powerful. Sometimes it makes memories, sometimes it brings back memories. For those who have trouble remembering, like Cathy, who has dementia.

“We love them singing with us,” she said.

Her sons William and Jim, along with William’s wife Jennifer, sing and play music with her and the community every Thursday.

“When I look at her, just to see her celebrating, it makes me so happy,” William said.

Numerous studies have shown that music can help improve mood, behavior and even cognitive function in people with dementia. William says she saw it firsthand with her mother, who suffers from dementia, but she never misses a beat of the music and often remembers all the lyrics to her songs. I have.

“Musical language is the language that speaks to her the most. Verbal language is not,” he said. “Even though her condition has changed, her music hasn’t changed. She still remembers the lyrics of old songs. She probably responds to music more than she used to.”

William says music has become an important way for the family to connect with Kathy.

“I feel reconnected with her,” he said. “That’s part of the challenge for people with dementia. How do you connect with that person? We used to do it verbally, we used to do it by making plans and talking about the past and talking about the future but all of a sudden they don’t work anymore it doesn’t make sense so connect with mom It’s hard to say, but music is clearly a strong connection.”

The weekly amount of music originally started as a ritual in the Susae family. However, as time went on, more and more memory care residents began to show up. Now the Sousae family singalong is a community-wide event, filled with attendees eager to connect.

“There’s a book called ‘I’m Still Here.’ Sometimes there’s a feeling that people with dementia aren’t there anymore. We are experiencing it together in this exchange,” William said. I realized I was there.”

Even the people you love most can find it difficult to find ways to connect if they have dementia. But through their shared love of music, the Sousae family found a way to bridge that gap.

“It’s just a great way to communicate with your mom,” William said. In that sense, she’s grown in her love and enjoyment of life with music’ and dance.What does that mean?It means everything.

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