Mary Beth tells the story:
My Mom’s first name is Joan. She’s currently 78-years-old and her onset of symptoms began in 2010 after the death of her mother and my brain injury. It was a short six months before she became extremely confused and tried cooking hamburgers, frozen fruit and multiple other things all together, while still in their package. Another six months later she was wandering off and didn’t know anyone that didn’t live in her home.
The origin of her arm movements begins as a repetitive technique she uses often in order to calm her confusion, fear and anxiety. The movements are usually less noticeable, but when she hears music she loves, she loves to move more and more. The music seems to take her to a childlike place where fear, anxiety and confusion disappear.
She becomes entranced in moving to the music. She is never happier than when people join her in singing and dancing. She doesn’t have to think and the repetitive nature of the dances makes her feel more in control.
Throughout the film, especially scenes of flowers and landscapes, she would point to the TV and with a slightly dropped jaw say, “ooooh.”
She is especially happy when she can sing along with music, and when others join in with her. She especially liked the song you wrote and she would hum along and try to catch words. When my nephew Brendan asked her to dance to the song, she almost blushed, like she was a child being asked to dance for the first time. There was zero frustration or anxiety throughout the movie and we ended up playing your song a good 5 or 6 times at the end.
MUSIC in her life:
I’ve always known my mother loves to sing and dance and we do it very often. There’s a song she used to sing as a child in her French Parochial school that she still remembers. We can sing and dance to it for an hour straight. I don’t see her often enough and I’m the only one that really gets her going. She never laughs and smiles more than when she can sing and dance to music. So, it wasn’t unusual in the fact that I thought she would enjoy it, but it is unusual in a positive way that she now can do it more when I’m not at her house. My father can turn it on when she’s upset and within a few minutes she’ll be waving her hands.
The music itself prompted her to dance. She started to get into a relaxed mood looking at the images, and then began to flow with the music. It fills her and really brings her so much joy. She used to sing in our church choir and has a beautiful voice. She never used to dance the way she does now. She would slow dance with my father in the kitchen every night when he came home from work.
If I remember correctly, the majority of the images my mother pointed out were flowers and a sunset. The nature photos definitely captured her and the flowers, especially the rose. My father does continue to play the movie for her if she’s in an agitated mood and shortly the bad mood dissolves and they will both do the hand movements together.
I believe that the movie is so helpful because people with Alzheimer’s, including my mother, can feel so many scary and confusing emotions when they don’t understand what’s going on. My mother can’t even form a normal sentence anymore. The beautiful images capture their attention and then the music soothes. Different music can somehow become reminiscent of a good past experience, even though they don’t fully remember what it is. Your film transports them to a safe place with happy feelings. Thanks so much for your hard work, it’s beautiful!
She normally has a confused or agitated face on, but this smile is what music does for her!
Lots of love,
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