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4:24 AM Tue, Sept. 25th

Music memory initiative catching on with area families, caregivers

PRESCOTT – In his farewell tour after a 2011 diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, country music legend Glen Campbell performs his final recording “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.”

Video

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The song about the terminal, progressive disease that steals the memories, and lives, of men and women across this nation is proof how music and lyrics can speak to one’s heart, evoking emotions that last long after Campbell’s last strum of his guitar.

The video clip of Campbell’s performance was played at the finale of the “Music For Every Ear –Connecting Music With Memory” symposium on June 7 at the Yavapai Community College Performing Arts Center on June 7. Many of the full-house audience swiped at tears as they watched the Country Music Hall of Fame honoree in the throes of an illness they know too well.

Yet the symposium was not intended to be one of despair, but rather of hope.

Music For Every Ear is a new local collaborative of about 50 nonprofit agencies that provide music as a tool to help patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias tap into their memories. The sounds and lyrics they can listen to on personalized iPods with accompanying headphones allow them to again engage with those around them.

As part of this effort, Yavapai Community College is launching a new Memory Center in the library – The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society presented the college with a $5,000 matching grant. The center will be a resource related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and will have information linked to the Music for Every Ear mission.

Good Samaritan Prescott Village launched its own certified music memory program last year, contracting with Music & Memory for training and equipment. Mountain View Manor did likewise.

In a prelude to the presentation, local musical artists entertained guests with different styles of music, highlighting the pivotal role music plays in everybody’s life.

“What’s your favorite song?” queried Dr. Mitchell Gelber, a clinical psychologist and event moderator.

Music has long been a means to mark one’s life journey, and is deemed a “back door” to the mind, Gelber and fellow experts said. Music is also a comfort that can be used to calm people when they become agitated by their confusion, they said.

Through a 35-minute clip of the Music & Memory video, “Alive Inside,” symposium guests were introduced to the concept of equipping seniors with dementia with iPods and headphones. Personalized playlists can be downloaded from various sources.

One 90-year-old woman apologized for forgetting much of her early life only to find when she listened to some 1940s tunes she was riding her bicycle to school again. Still another bedridden patient started dancing under the covers when she was hooked up with an iPod.

A local panel of professionals talked about the simplicity, and necessity, of implementing this initiative. They agreed it can make a profound difference in the lives of all touched by dementia.

“This is a big deal,” declared Tami Gilbertson, Good Samaritan’s marketing and development director and collaborative organizer. “This is about hope.”

Lyrics of Glen Campbell’s final recording co-written with producer Julian Raymond, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”

“I’m still here, but yet I’m gone

I don’t play guitar or sing my songs

They never defined who I am

The man that loves you ‘til the end

You’re the last person I will love

You’re the last face I will recall

And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you

Not gonna miss you

I’m never gonna hold you like I did

Or say I love you to the kids

You’re never gonna see it in my eyes

It’s not gonna hurt me when you cry

I’m never gonna know what you go through

All the things I say or do

All the hurt and all the pain

One thing selfishly remains

I’m not gonna miss you

I’m not gonna miss you”