Denver music therapy class improves quality of life for memory loss patients

DENVER -- Odds are, you know someone with Alzheimer's.  Nearly six million Americans are living with it.  But a Denver woman is addressing the issue of memory loss through music.

Kathleen Marsh is a board certified music therapist.  Her music therapy sessions at Balfour Stapleton are a big hit with the memory loss residents there.

"When you play music, when you listen to music, when you sing, there are multiple regions of your brain being activated, multiple neural networks that are activated.  So when I come here one week, someone may forget who I am from week to week, but the minute we start singing, they can remember nearly every song from their childhood.  Or they might remember working on a farm when they were 10 years old. It`s spurred by the music. It`s really fascinating," Marsh told FOX 31.

Whether it's Alzheimer's, dementia or some other form of music loss, music seems to help.

Music can spark the memory, so it can bring you back to a place or a time and make you think of those good memories," said Kristen Price, life enrichment manager at Balfour Senior Living.

One resident in the class is Ken, who has played his guitar his whole life.  An hour spent strumming six strings suddenly brings back years of joy.

"If he ever has a day where he`s struggling with his memory, if I jump in and say, 'Hey Ken, let`s start in the key of C and we`re going to play 'Hey Good Lookin,' he`s just on it.  And throughout that hour, he stays with me, he`s very focused, very attentive, he improvises and noodles around on these little melodies that I could never do,'" Marsh said.

"And then when the music starts, they`re laughing, they`re talking, they`re teasing each other, they`re dancing with each other sometimes, it`s a wonderful conversation starter for them," she added.

"I hope they feel a little happier when I`ve left and when we`ve made an hour of music together, I hope they can recall some good memories, and think back on their childhood or have that moment of just being able to recall something and to be able to feel good about themselves," Marsh said.

To learn more about music therapy, click here.  To find a music therapist who can help a loved one who may be dealing with a memory issue, click here.  For more information about music therapy for people living with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, contact: Kathleen Marsh,  info@ksmusictherapy.com or 970-217-1298

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