This is the incredible moment a former prima ballerina suffering with Alzheimer’s is transformed when she hears the music from Swan Lake.
Marta C Gonzalez, who died in 2019, is shown sitting in her wheelchair at a care home in Valencia.
A carer places headphones on her and begins playing Tschaikovsky’s Swan Lake – which Ms Gonzalez danced to in her youth.
She had been a prima ballerina with the New York Ballet in the 1960s.
Marta C Gonzalez, who died in 2019, is shown sitting in her wheelchair at a care home in Valencia
Pictured: Ms Gonzalez performing with the New York Ballet in 1967
A carer places headphones on her and begins playing Tschaikovsky’s Swan Lake – which Ms Gonzalez danced to in her youth
As the music floods through her, Ms Gonzalez is visibly moved.
Within moments, her hands instinctively reenact the graceful movements she had performed on stage in 1967.
She continues to follow along with the music and remembers the choreography she danced to decades ago.
The emotional moment, captured before Ms Gonzalez died in 2019, was shared by the Asociacion Musica para Despertar, a Spanish charity which uses the music of dementia patients’ lives to improve their mood and memory, among other things.
In the video Ms Gonzalez listens to the music through a pair of headphones and soon begins to replicate the choreography she danced to all those years ago.
As the music floods through her, Ms Gonzalez is visibly moved
Actor Antonio Banderas shared the clip on Facebook, writing that he hoped the video would serve as ‘a well-deserved recognition of her art and her passion’.
He wrote: ’53 years ago she was a NYC Ballet dancer. Tchaicovsky’s music managed to mock his Alzheimer’s. It’s been a year since all of this.
‘Now on the occasion of your passing, serve the dissemination of these images as a well deserved recognition of your art and your passion.
‘RIP Marta C. Gonzalez.’
After finishing her performance, she is met with applause by those present at the care home in Valencia.
Within moments, her hands instinctively reenact the graceful movements she had performed on stage in 1967
Actor Antonio Banderas shared the clip on Facebook, writing that he hoped the video would serve as ‘a well-deserved recognition of her art and her passion’
She is then comforted as she tells a care worker she is ’emotional’,
‘The power of music is immeasurable,’ the charity said. ‘May she rest in peace.’
In April last year Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that dementia patients would benefit from ‘personal playlists’.
He said that music and dance sessions should be prescribed to more dementia patients after a study by charity Playlist for Life found giving patients personal music playlists resulted in a 60 per cent reduction in the need for medication.
Mr Hancock added: ‘There is increasing evidence suggesting music can bring calm to people with dementia by reducing agitation and supporting those affected to cope better with symptoms.
‘This is the kind of personalised care that I fully endorse as a key part of our NHS long term plan.’
Dementia affects more than 850,000 people in the UK each year – a figure which is set to soar to over a million by 2025.
Could this playlist of war-time classics ease symptoms in dementia patients? Study finds old records trigger a wave of relief from disease-related anxiety
By Megan Sheets
Playing a wartime classic such as You Are My Sunshine alleviate Alzheimer’s symptoms, new research suggests.
Caregivers have long used music for dementia therapy as it’s been shown to relieve stress and uplift the moods of people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s – see a list of their favorite songs below.
A new study from the University of Utah Health found that listening to their favorite music triggered a surge of activity in several areas of a patient’s brain including the social and sensory hubs that were previously quiet.
The findings revealed that putting on an old record could provide significant relief from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s including anxiety, depression and agitation.
An estimated six million people in the US suffer from dementia, an umbrella term for a group of symptoms including memory impairment, confusion and loss of ability to carry out everyday activities.
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia cause rapid deterioration in the brain, often eliminating a person’s ability to recognize their families or remember events from their life.
However, music memory somehow escapes the damage, allowing patients to remember songs that are meaningful to them even when most of their other memory is gone.
‘When you put headphones on dementia patients and play familiar music, they come alive,’ said Jace King, a graduate student in the Brain Network Lab and first author on the paper published Friday.
‘Music is like an anchor, grounding the patient back in reality.’
In the new study, the researchers hypothesized that the positive effect of music is linked to the brain’s salience network.
The salience network is thought to be integral to cognitive functioning by regulating activity in other areas of the brain including the visual, emotional and social networks.
Previous research has shown that damage to the salience network results in an decrease in communication between different areas of the brain, similar to that seen in dementia patients.
SAMPLE PLAYLIST FOR YOUR LOVED ONE WITH DEMENTIA
While dementia takes its toll on a person’s memory, music stays with them.
Below are 15 of the top recommended songs from caregivers and senior living programs.
- You Are My Sunshine – Jimmie Davis
- She’ll Be Comin’ Round The Mountain – Tommy Tucker Time
- This Land Is Your Land – Woody Guthrie
- Amazing Grace – Elvis Presley
- Over The Rainbow – Judy Garland
- Pennies From Heaven – Bing Crosby
- Moonlight Serenade – Glen Miller
- A-Tisket A-Tasket – Ella Fitzgerald
- Moon Glow – Benny Goodman
- Nature Boy – Nat King Cole
- Memories Are Made Of This – Dean Martin
- Wheel Of Fortune – Kay Starr
- Five Minutes More – Frank Sinatra
- Look For The Silver Lining – Chet Baker
- The Goldberg Variations – J.S. Bach
Source: A Place For Mom
‘People with dementia are confronted by a world that is unfamiliar to them, which causes disorientation and anxiety,’ said Dr Jeff Anderson, an associate professor in Radiology at U of U Health and contributing author on the study.
‘We believe music will tap into the salience network of the brain that is still relatively functioning.’
Over the course of three weeks the researchers trained 17 participants with an average age of 71 years old to use a portable media player and helped them create a playlist with their favorite songs.
Using a functional MRI, the researchers scanned the patients to image the regions of the brain that lit up when they listened to eight 20-second clips of from their personalized music collection, eight clips of the same music played in reverse and eight blocks of silence.
The scans revealed that music activated several different areas of the brain including the visual network, the salience network, the executive network and the cerebellar and corticocerebellar network pairs.
‘This is objective evidence from brain imaging that shows personally meaningful music is an alternative route for communicating with patients who have Alzheimer’s disease,’ said Dr Norman Foster, director of the Center for Alzheimer’s Care at U of U Health and senior author on the paper.
‘Language and visual memory pathways are damaged early as the disease progresses, but personalized music programs can activate the brain, especially for patients who are losing contact with their environment.’
The authors emphasized that while promising, the results are far from conclusive in part because the sample was small and because they only did one round of imaging for each person.
They did not determine how long the music’s effects lasted in the brain or whether it made any impact in the long term.
However, they were ultimately encouraged by the results.
‘In our society, the diagnoses of dementia are snowballing and are taxing resources to the max,’ Anderson said.
‘No one says playing music will be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but it might make the symptoms more manageable, decrease the cost of care and improve a patient’s quality of life.’
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