#1058 Music finds the vibrant soul inside dementia patients


Music touches Henry’s soul; photo clip from video below

The elderly and infirm may look empty, but they are Alive Inside. That is the title of a film being released this month that will make you look at people with dementia and major cognitive and physical challenges with new eyes.

Dan Cohen is the visionary behind it. He is a social worker who volunteered in a nursing home to test his idea that music could transform life for aging resident. He began loading iPods with music carefully chosen for residents. Watch the video about how that worked for Henry, and you can see how brilliant his idea is.

The pilot project proved so successful Cohen formed Music & Memory, a non-profit “that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or inform through digital music technology, vastly improving quality of life.”

Dan Cohen is transforming the lives of people too often written off. He gives me hope.

You can follow Music & Memory on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

This post initially appeared on Hope Habit.


#1053 It’s not over till the old lady dances

Paddy and Nico

Paddy and Nico at Britain’s Got Talent; photo clip from video below

Paddy began dancing when she was two and a half years old. She stopped to rear four children.

Years later she and her husband moved to Spain. He died there 18 months later. She wanted something to do so began taking lessons at Nico’s dance academy.

This was not just a whim. It was a passion. Nico’s lessons took her farther than most 80-year-olds would dare go. They took their act to Britain’s Got Talent and wowed judges and audiences alike.

Paddy’s was a dream deferred. She gives me hope.


#1037 WWII vet plays hooky from his nursing home to commemorate D-Day

Bernard Jordan

Bernard Jordan returning home from his adventure; photo from Euronews video below

He pinned on his medals, pulled on a raincoat, and headed out the door of The Pines nursing home in Hove, East Sussex. Nothing was going to keep Bernard Jordan from attending the D-Day commemorations in Normandy.

The BBC reported that nursing home staff had tried to secure a place for him on a tour organized by the Royal British Legion. Unfortunately, the tour was fully booked. Rather than miss the ceremonies, Jordan set out on his own.

He overlooked one thing – to tell staff in the Brighton and Hove nursing home he was not planning to come back from his daily jaunt. When he failed to return, the police went on the hunt. They discovered he had taken the train to Portsmouth, where he connected with veterans on their way to France. After Jordan spoke with the nursing home, they stopped worrying about the independent senior, whose wife also lives in the home but was not with him on his jaunt.

The 89-year-old veteran was a hit with everyone he met. He made it to the ceremonies and then took the overnight ferry back home. His cheerful personality won the hearts of the staff of Brittany Ferries, who offered him “free travel to the Normandy beaches for the rest of his life.”

The story has gone viral. What strikes me is what it reveals about stereotypes of aging. Bernard Jordan is bright and able to get around just fine. D-Day was important to him, and he was fit enough to make the trip. He plans to repeat the journey again in 2015, when he will be 90.

Mr. Jordan is free to come and go, like anyone else. That he still does so gives me hope.


#998 Grandma Betty’s rise to stardom


The photo above is Zach’s favourite, of Grandma Betty doing her duck face while giving the peace sign. Grandma Betty may be battling cancer, but the 80-year-old is going out in style, thanks to her great-grandson’s decision to post photos…


#986 Aging adventurers take to the open road

Road Scholars hiking in Glacier National Park

Who can resist a name like Road Scholar for a travel program designed for aging adventurers? Elderhostel has been around for a long time, but somehow I had missed its morphing into Road Scholar. That is a much more inspiring…