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November is Family Caregivers Month and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month - Anne Oh, MHM Board Member

Hi Everyone! My name is Anne Oh and I am a Board Member for Music Heals Minds. I am also the Manager of Support Groups and Activity Programs for Alzheimer’s Los Angeles, a local nonprofit that improve the lives of families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia by increasing awareness, delivering effective programs and services, providing compassionate support, and advocating for quality care and a cure. November is Family Caregivers Month and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Caring for an individual who has Alzheimer’s is extremely challenging and the stress can take a toll on your mental and physical health which can eventually lead to burnout. If you are a caregiver, it is important to remember you are not alone and to utilize the resources and support around you.

And one of the resources are taking part in activity programs for people living dementia and for family caregivers. I am extremely grateful to have worked with Nani for the past few years to provide meaningful engagement to our clients at Alzheimer’s Los Angeles. Nani who is an amazing singer and facilitator does a wonderful job of connecting with the participants. Group singing has observable benefits on the quality of life and mental health in most older adults. These benefits include improved social support which alleviates stress and stigma. During these sessions, I can instantly see the music shifting their mood, stimulating positive interactions, and improving cognitive function and motor movements. Specifically with dementia, memory is impacted but when it comes to music, it is fascinating to see how the participants living with dementia can recall lyrics and hum the melody to a tune from their era. Three of our attendees from Nani’s sessions described their experience below:

  • “It was Spring of 2020 and we were pretty isolated with the pandemic. I was working remotely. My wife, Helen, was used to some in-person activities but all of them closed. It was such a relief to start participating in the program. Helen has lots of trouble remembering stuff now but for some reason melodies and songs come back to her. She enjoys singing along with Nani. Nani is a very talented and eclectic singer that can do a wide range of songs. Music has always been relaxing to Helen and special but seems even more important now. They have been to take song requests and play some of Helen’s favorite songs. It is a wonderful program and we greatly appreciate and enjoy it.” – Larry

  • “My mother has been a part of the program for several months. These sessions with Nani are always a treat for us. She not only has incredible vocal talent, but she also creates an incredible experience for everyone who attends. She has a lot of energy, which helps her engage everyone. She really knows how to get those suffering from dementia out of their comfort zone by addressing them by name and involving them in the discussions in between songs. She encourages singing, which always results in such precious moments as everyone, including my mother, joins in. We appreciate everything she does for the community. She shines when she sings because you can tell she enjoys it, and my mother enjoys being a part of it all. I’m grateful for this program, and I always make it a point to tell others about it.” – Crystal

  • “I have so enjoyed participating in the program with Nani. Music plays such an important role in the quality of our lives. It is a fact that music helps to keep our brains strong and strengthens the connections in our brains. The sessions with Nani have been wonderful. Nani’s positive attitude and her lovely voice help to bring joy to all of us who attend. She encourages everyone to sing along, share some of their favorite songs and memories. I’m so glad that I found out about this program.” – Diana

(Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality).

I am thankful for the opportunity to work with all of you and continue to do what I love – which is to help families and those living with dementia by providing them additional support, resources, and fun activities to engage in. Thank you.

With gratitude,

Anne Oh

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