Ok. This is a weird post. Please don’t use the following to evaluate my mental health. You have enough other material for that (my shared memes alone is enough fodder)…give this one a pass. Here it goes:
My unusual and unfortunately flawed hypothesis/thought regarding Alzheimer’s patient communication: I wonder if anyone has ever tried to set music to words or phrases as in a communicative way? I don’t mean setting words to music…that is called…wait for it….a song. 😉 What I mean is could notes or chords somehow be ordered or laid out to symbolize words or phrases? Toss in cadence and non-verbal/musical cues and rudimentary communication could occur. There is nothing particularly magical about verbal words, after all. Think ASL, Morse Code, pictograms/hieroglyphics, etc. It could be as basic as Yes/No or more advanced (certain chords=certain phrases). Martin Luther set Scripture to music as a memorization tool for his congregation…I realize this is in the “wrong order” in my premise, but it does show musical notes and cadence enhance memorization…can it work backwards too?
Why? Music/art (within physical and skill limitations on
expression) seem to be some of the very last parts of the brain to be broken by
the deadly umbrella of dementia diseases (DUDD). Could there be a way to extend
rudimentary communication using these less battered cortex lobes/inner
segments? Rewiring/redirecting pathways in a TBI patient certainly happens
unless the wrong parts are damaged. Why not preemptively rewire?
My mom and several of the Sweet 17 try to communicate with speech/cadence/rhythm that sounds nearly exactly like they are talking to me…but the words are typically a hot mess…not even close. Often not even words. Onomatopoeia-ish? Mom asks questions sometimes with words that might as well have been pulled randomly from a felt hat…and seems to require an answer. 🙁 (Hence my opening paragraph…I am not hearing voices here…) What if they truly know exactly what they are trying to say and it just comes out like Charlie Brown’s teacher?
If this worked, it could matter
for several reasons. Example: UTIs wreak havoc on memory unit folks. If they
could be caught earlier, some could be treated before they got worse
Treatment is always harder when you cannot communicate with the patient.
Another reason this would be cool: I would love to communicate with mom and the Sweet 17 more thoroughly.
Fatal flaws: you would have to
learn this “language” before becoming symptomatic.
There are limits to expression of words through notes/chords.
It would likely be one-sided communication.
Not everyone with musical acumen can read music and some cannot/would not learn it.
Hearing fails with age.
Memorizing notes/musical muscle memory isn’t the same thing as communicating…and the communicative portion of the brain is still dying/broken, so who is to say that the musical Rosetta Stone wouldn’t get deleted or float down the neurotransmitter toilet.
All sorts of limitations…
Learning a language does expand the brain in a unique way as does music/art. It sure wouldn’t hurt someone or a group of someone’s to experiment, and it should actually help their brain the same as learning a language or a musical instrument does.
I have many, many teachers in my friends list. Some are also nursing home workers, speech therapists, psychologists, nurses, etc… I would love to hear some opinions on my silly theory, which was tapped into my phone by a guy who just hates this disease and would love extend the good parts of life until a cure is found.
By the way…mom had a good report today. I couldn’t go but my stepdad went. She seemed to sleep more regularly…perhaps the beginning of a good streak? 🙂