Music with kids stirs older minds

Jun 8th, 2016 | By | Category: News

In an ongoing 10-week program, seniors at an assisted-living community in King County are exploring music and the recollections it evokes down the sometimes inaccessible memory lane.

Music Together program is an internationally recognized music program for children from birth through age 7 and the adults who love them. At the core of the program is the concept that creating music aids young minds in their development, a benefit that extends itself to older minds, as well, such as those at the Spiritwood at Pine Lake community in Issaquah.

“The part of the brain that handles music deteriorates remarkably slowly as we age, which is why familiar music stirs up such rich and calming memories for even those suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s and dementia,” said Tracy Willis, director of corporate development at Village Concepts, which operates Spiritwood. “Some of our non-verbal memory care residents have actually been able to sing along to their favorite songs, remembering past parts of themselves. This new group class will be another meaningful way to engage our residents in memory care.”

Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association project that by 2050, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will increase from 5.1 million to 7.1 million. Alzheimer’s, which primarily affects women, is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the association.

The program is “a fantastic avenue for the Spiritwood seniors to create intergenerational music with our students,” said Julie Millar, director of Lake View Music Together. “Research shows that graduates of our class develop socially, cognitively and physically, and we couldn’t be happier to extend some of those same benefits to the residents.”

Founded in 1975, Village Concepts owns and operates residential and assisted living communities throughout Washington, including King and Pierce counties.