Music, Memory, and Connection: Lifelong Bonds

Music albums are lined up on a shelf bookended by a headset

As an older generation of musicians who created the soundtrack to our lives begin to leave this earthly plane, many people are reminded how closely music is tied to memory.  The loss of Jimmy Buffett recently sparked many fond tributes and musical moments shared with others who found an escape from the grind of daily life in his lyrics and tropical rock sound.   

As people reach older age, they often begin to consider what kind of end-of-life memorial will be held in their honour and worry if it will accurately reflect their values, joys, and accomplishments.  Writing down your wishes, history and most meaningful moments can help guide loved ones during a time of grief when making detailed arrangements can be extremely difficult to navigate.  A playlist of songs that rekindle joy, grief, and love and transport people to a specific time and place can communicate emotion and connection when words alone may fall short. 

Studies have found that music can have a profound effect on mood and behaviour.  When music is played for people living with dementia, many experience sudden memory recall and may even be spurred to sing or dance, even when they may not have spoken or walked in some time.  Connecting music with learning can also help cement new memories.  Singing is used to help people recovering from a stroke or other brain injury and can improve the quality of life for all ages. 

Whether you are dancing in the kitchen while cooking Sunday dinner for the family, or sitting by a bonfire on a cool September evening, bringing more music into your life can increase joy, and emotional connection, and even when the body may fail, music continues to elicit powerful emotions and pleasure. 

Stream a classic Tony Bennet duet, revisit The Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense, or conjure up a Harvest Moon listening to classic Neil Young, and discover how music can invigorate, calm, and bring joy and excitement to everyday experiences.