Community members learn how music helps with memory loss
Gila River Indian News
Nearly three dozen Gila River Indian Community members attended a presentation from 9-10:30 a.m. on Aug. 31 at the District 3 Multi-Purpose Building to help those caring for or living with someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
The Elderly Concerns group assisted by the Elderly Services Caregiver program (ESCP) in Gila River hosted the event in partnership with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA), Inc. With the number of American Indian and Alaskan Native elderly expected to triple over the next three decades, there’s an increasing interest in supporting and assisting those living with Alzheimer’s disease.
The guest speaker was Heather Mulder, associate director of outreach research at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) as a part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Program Initiative (ADPI) covering Dementia Capability in Indian Country. She gave everyone a complimentary “Walk with Me” CD and discussed how to use music to connect with and support someone with memory loss.
The 12-track CD reflects Native American culture and features artists such as R. Carlos Nakai, Cliff Sarde, Aaron White and Kelvin Bizahaloni.
“Those of you who know someone with Alzheimer’s disease, one of the first things you learn is: Be adaptable,” Mulder said. “You have to constantly be creative when you’re caring about someone and taking care of someone that has dementia.”
Mulder defined dementia and how to recognize it. She also explained how music can be used creatively to help individuals with their daily functions.
“Throughout our days we put on music for ourselves to help distract us, to help motivate us and to take us to a different time of our lives,” Mulder said. “We can do that with people with dementia, too.”
She explained how the 12 song CD “Walk with Me” can help with communication, attention, movement and self-care for those with dementia.
“Dementia is a disease that nobody wants to talk about, but we are trying to bring it out to the public more,” said Elderly Services Caregiver Program Coordinator Regina Antone, District 4. She added that Mulder’s presentation emphasized “what signs to look for, how to be compassionate and how to work slowly with someone with dementia.”
Antone said there has been a rise in interest concerning Alzheimer’s from Community elders and caregivers. She also mentioned that the program had a great turnout among other neighboring tribes.
Linda Andrews, District 4, attended the Alzheimer’s presentation and said she learned how the influence of music can restore the interpersonal connection between her and a loved one with dementia.
“It’s a subject that a lot of people are dealing with but just don’t know how to approach it,” Andrews said. “How to ask questions that are going to help them as caregivers and for the person that may have dementia, and how to deal with it, because it’s hard to watch your loved ones go through this.”
Carol Schruz, District 2, said the topic was personal to her. A loved one had dementia and passed away, and she wants to prepare herself and her family for the possibility that she might have it someday.
“As part of the aging process, this is important to begin to prepare yourself for what may or may not occur,” Schruz said.
For more information about GRIC’s elderly services caregiver program, call (520) 562-5232. To order the “Walk with Me” CD, email BAIFCS@bannerhealth.com.