Written by Christi McCaverty, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator
Agnes McCaverty was my mother who did not remember my name or where she
was. Early onset Alzheimer's disease appeared to have erased all her memories.
One day, many years ago, while sitting with her I witnessed a true miracle.
My mother was sitting quietly and non-responsive when a song came on the
radio. Suddenly, in that moment, it appeared as if nothing was wrong with
her. Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus was on the radio and she smiled,
clapped, sang some of the words and danced around the living room without
missing a beat. This would happen every time my mom heard music.
I thought this reaction was simply Agnes' love for music shining through
her disease. Little did I know that twenty years later, I would find out
music was a powerful healing tool being medically studied for people with
Scientists have discovered the area where music is stored in our brain
is different from the area where memory is stored. It has been proven
that listening to music provides emotional and behavioral benefits for
people with Alzheimer's and dementia. Additionally, music is known
to help relieve stress, reduce anxiety and agitation while helping with
Torrance Memorial's Hospice Volunteer Program purchased bluetooth speakers
for volunteers to take to memory-impaired patients. The volunteer will
typically speak with a family member to obtain artists and musical genres
to evoke memories or happy times for the patient. We have had great success
with patients responding well to music.
Torrance Memorial hospice volunteer Katherine Gutierrez said, "My
patient would have slight shakes and difficulty communicating. However,
when I played music, she would begin to relax and calm. Sometimes she
would even verbalize recognizable words. It seemed as if she has awoken
her brain again."
To donate a Bluetooth speaker, please contact:
For more information on music therapy, please visit: