They sit in a circle in the sunny Amber Way dining room and sing "Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say It's all right." For residents of Amber Way, the song is more than an uplifting melody. They are a connection to days gone by.
"Music makes her smile. She is staying in tune with the music and she's just happy," said Shelly Wisdom-Long, whose mother takes part in a music therapy program at Amber Way Apartments (Kalamazoo in the United States), a Heritage Community of Kalamazoo facility for people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
"Songs are associated with different memories, so different songs can evoke different moods. One of our residents, any time she hears a love song she starts to tear up, not because she's sad necessarily but because it makes her think of her husband. She may not even be having specific memories of specific moments, but she remembers the feelings the song brought on in the past," said Paige Culross, a certified recreational therapist at the Kalamazoo senior community, told the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Amber Way provides residents suffering from dementia with music therapy, a growing form of treatment for memory loss. People gather in the dining room, sing songs, play instruments and get to know each other better.
The goal is to work on memory recall through hearing familiar music. "Emotional memories are very different from other memories, and very often we associate music with emotions. They are linked in our minds. That's why these residents who don't usually have specific long-term memories can remember what they felt when they listened to certain types of music. We want to make each moment better for our residents," Culross said.