"This is amazing. I am hearing it in stereo all around me. This is beautiful." These are the words from Feroze Mohammed, who lives with Alzheimer's disease, after receiving an MP3 player with a playlist of 100 songs from the Alzheimer Society of York Region (AS York) and The Music Project.
After applying for and receiving confirmation about being accepted into the program, which provides an MP3 player, a customized playlist and headphones for free to York Region residents living with dementia, Feroze and his wife Jennifer Dance Bowen spent an afternoon picking out the songs Feroze wanted on his player.
"Ours truly is a personalized playlist of 100 songs," said Jennifer who said was pleased about the variety of music to choose from the "old crooners" to opera, big band, blues and soul. Feroze's MP3 player contains John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads; Momas and Popas' California Dreamin' and James Taylor's You've got a Friend, among others.
Music is said to increase happiness and mental well-being in people living with dementia, improve communication, sleep, mood and overall quality of life. Because music taps into different parts of the brain, "musical memories are often preserved", according to the Mayo Clinic.
"Feroze has always enjoyed listening to music. It lifts his mood, gives him an activity and gives us a way of communicating since songs bring up memories that we can talk about," Jennifer said.
While the Music Project is free, each unit costs AS York $200. AS York fundraises to provide MP3 players to people who are socially isolated due to their disease in addition to the affects of COVID-19.
The Alzheimer Society of York Region (AS York) provides support to people living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and their caregivers as well as the general public. Last year, 272 people living with dementia attended D.A.Y, programs, 2,362 families benefitted from counselling services, while 4,557 people took part in a public education session. Clients call AS York a "lifeline" and the people who work there "angels". Compassionate and knowledgeable staff are available to help and support people whatever stage they are on in their dementia journey. AS York offers First Link coordinators who connect people with social workers and community supports; support groups; and caregiver education, among other programs and services.
The Alzheimer Society of York Region's (AS York) Aurora DAY centre is my lifeline. With the caring staff and specialized programming, which includes art, music and exercise as well
as sharing a meal with friends, my mom's mental and physical health is being positively impacted. The DAY program is allowing us to keep my mom at home." Jane
"I would tell people on the dementia journey to be reassured that there is help available and that you are not alone. There are times when you really do need help and people like Angela (an AS York social worker) and the Alzheimer Society of York Region come in handy." Jean's husband lives with young-onset dementia.
"Your society has been my lifeline, a lifeline for many people. I sat in on a Zoom meeting and I listened to people chatting. I really came to understand how important what (the AS York team) does for people, how blessed we are to have an organization like yours to be there for us. Not reaching out to (AS York) is not an option, it's an absolute necessity. I think it would be very challenging to do it without the Alzheimer Society as they give you such incredible direction and support." Sandy, whose dad lives with dementia.
The Alzheimer Society of York Region's mission is to alleviate the personal and social consequences of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and to promote research.