The idea of music therapy is a growing topic for many areas of the county, and it is now being used in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients right here in Colorado.

The Valley Manor Care Center of Montrose has introduced it’s memory care unit to the ‘iPod Program’, or music therapy.

Music can be more than just a simple melody. Sometimes music can also be a memory.

When walking through the halls of Valley Manor Care Center of Montrose, music can always be heard.

Whether through singing, playing an instrument, or humming along with an iPod, residents in the memory care unite use he power of music as a source of therapy and rehabilitation.

“It’s therapeutic music for them,” says Memory Care Specialist, Brandi Garcia. “It has therapeutic purpose and it ties those early childhood memories to the resident. So often we see these resident blossom. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Marla Ross, a long time singer in her church choir, was in search of help caring for her husband, Larry after he suffered a stroke. Once discovering the music therapy or ‘iPod program’, she found much more than just help.

“I took care of him for 6 years. He and I love music,” says Marla Ross whose husband, Larry Ross, is in the Memory Care unit at Valley Manor. “One night one of the nurses had him call me because he was very agitated. And so I sang him that song on the phone and he quieted down the entire time I sang. And so that was a real important marker I guess, in saying, that this would be something that would be beneficial to him.”

Marla says although difficult the be away from Larry, she feels peace knowing he is safe and comfortable.

“It brings comfort to me as well,” says Marla. “It does reach a deep place within us, not just in the brain. With dementia, so many things are getting clouded and distorted in the brain. But those things that reach us in our spirit, I think is real clear. And when I see him tearing up with the songs I think that that is it’s clear to him.”

Memory care experts say the music acts as a spark; triggering moments from the past.

“Somebody with dementia, their brain kind of diminishes,” says Garcia. “And when putting music on there, sparks all go within the brain an so our residents are able to connect with us on a deeper level because their brain is so fired up.”

For Marla and Larry, despite the years, their love is still alive more than ever.

“We were able to take over that caregiver role and allow Marla to be the wife again,” says Garcia. “And so when she brings family and friends in and their able to sing to him, that connection of husband and wife is there again.”

For Marla, the music strengthens the bond between her and Larry.

“That’s a promise to Larry and when he listens to that, I know that he feels that promise,” says Marla. “And he’s not going to be alone; he’s never ever alone. So, knowing that it’s the same for both of us, really keeps us connected.”

When it comes to Marla and Larry, as long as there is music, there will be love.

The Valley Manor Memory Care and Music Therapy program is currently in need of iPods for residents to ensure the continuation and success of the program.

You can contact the center if you wish to help.