Local center uses music to help veterans with dementia
Author: KREM Staff
Published: 9:54 AM PDT September 25, 2017
Updated: 9:54 AM PDT September 25, 2017
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Music can entertain, soothe, and allow us to travel back to a place in time. At least, that is what it does for World War II veteran Dick Rowe.

Before the war, Rowe lived a life of music.

“I was in a 16 piece orchestra band,” he said with a smile. “Big Bank.”

When Rowe returned after the war, he started a family, and never went back to the band. However, music is still a big part of his life.

Now, at the Spokane Veteran’s Home, he can let that music take him away.

“It relaxes me when I get nervous,” he said.

Rowe is one of five veterans at the home participating in the Music and Memory Program. The goal is to provide music therapy to men and women who struggle with cognitive issues like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“We’ve been able to tap in with individual playlists,” explained Shane Price, who works for the Spokane Veteran’s Home. “[It helps them] live the memories.”

The program was implemented at the center, supported by the American Red Cross and volunteer nursing students.

One student nurse said she can see when those in her care are feeling good; she said they communicate with a slight tapping of the foot or a head nod can be a form of communication.

The program uses a small iPod shuffle and each can be loaded with music specific to each veteran.

For some veterans, those memories can be hard to unlock – music and technology can only do so much. However, the key for some might just be in the music - the tunes of the past - helping them live better here in the present.

“I think that seeing veterans like this, just being able to look back and have these overwhelmingly positive experiences, it’s really cool and a reminder that life does go on,” said Price. “You just have to focus on the positive and remember all the good things that happened.”