Kenny Chesney Brings Music to Those with Alzheimer’s

Music has been found to connect people with Alzheimer’s to memories, enabling them to open up to loved ones and even enhancing their quality of life. Sometimes, the response is immediate and shocking. In fact, according to Geri Hall, a clinical nurse specialist at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, “music activates a part of the brain that stays active despite the dementia, calming those who are distressed, increasing socialization, and even decreasing the need for mood controlling medications.”

In November 2011, country star Kenny Chesney’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. When Kenny found out, he was determined that his father would not forget him and that he would not forget his father. He expressed his love for his father in a beautifully moving musical tribute to him and to all who are living with and dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, entitled “While He Still Knows Who I am.”

In addition, in an effort to help others suffering from this debilitating disease, Chesney teamed up with a non-profit organization, Music and Memory, to bring music to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The effort involves collecting iPods and other digital music players personalized with the help of family to include songs that were favorites of their loved ones, and distributing them to seniors with Alzheimer’s in nursing homes.

In a recent public service announcement (PSA) for Music and Memory, Chesney urges his fans to donate money or a music player to the non-profit. According to Chesney, “These debilitating diseases are often so heartbreaking, and music has been found to be therapeutic for those suffering from the Alzheimer’s, leading to improved social engagement and quality of life. The gift of a music player full of favorite songs can help reconnect people with Alzheimer’s to good memories and to the people around them. And that’s a ray of hope for a lot of people.”

Another nonprofit that creates songs inspired by causes, such as Alzheimer’s disease, is Music for a Cause. The group recently posted a beautiful song about Alzheimer’s on YouTube, entitled “From His Window.

Music, and other non-drug treatment options, has been proven to offer ways to reduce difficult behaviors, while improving patient quality of life and a reduction in the need for medications. For example, instead of focusing on drug treatments, many of which have failed in clinical trials, nursing homes such as the Coler-Carter Nursing Home in New York, have incorporated the Music and Memory program into patient treatment. A year after the personalized music program had been in place, nurses were surveyed to assess its effectiveness, and respondents indicated that nearly 40 to 45% of patients showed some improvement, and the use of antipsychotic drugs dropped an astounding 38%. “Residents are often agitated when they receive care, such as bathing or a morning routine,” says Margaret Rivers, Associate Director for Patient Services. “The music brings them back to a place in their lives that had good memories.” When residents are more relaxed, “staff are able to spend more social time with the residents. They feel uplifted.” Please read our blog post for more examples of non-drug treatment options for those with Alzheimer’s.

At the Farr Law Firm, we think it is heartwarming to know that big celebrities such as Kenny Chesney are making leaps in helping to advance Alzheimer’s treatment, and are excited to see that programs such as Music and Memory are enhancing the quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients. Do you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia? Persons with Alzheimer’s and their families face special legal and financial needs. At the Farr Law Firm, we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from dementia and their loved ones. If you have a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, we can help you prepare for your future financial and long-term care needs. We help protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits. Call us today at 703-691-1888 in Fairfax or 540-479-1435 in Fredericksburg, to make an appointment for an introductory consultation.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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