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Which Is Right For Me: Brain Health Bootcamp or Music & Memory?

One of the ways AgeWell Atlanta strives to help the aging adult community in Atlanta is by connecting callers to programs that give people a chance to stay social and improve their brain and memory function at the same time. We do this through Music and Memory and Brain Health Bootcamp, two unique and impactful programs held by Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta (JF&CS).

You may be wondering: what is the difference between the two programs, exactly? And how do I know which is right for me or my loved one?

Brain Health Bootcamp helps those who have recently been diagnosed with memory impairments, or for aging adults who want to be proactive in managing their memory. This fun and engaging class is led by specialists in the field of aging, and can be joined over Zoom or in person.

Georgia Gunter, a Geriatric Care Manager at JF&CS, says of Brain Health Bootcamp: “When people first get diagnosed, they may be scared and wonder what they can do to help maintain cognitive functioning. I wanted to create a program that could really help older adults in those beginning stages of cognitive impairment.”

Each Brain Health Bootcamp class has exercises that target most, if not all, of the four signs of brain health: cognitive health, motor function, emotional function, and tactile function. There are two types of classes, where one goes at a slower pace and one that goes a little bit faster. The faster groups, according to Georgia, are best for those with mild cognitive impairment, or those who don’t have a diagnosis yet but realize things are changing.

Meanwhile, Music and Memory uses the proven powers of listening to music somebody loves to help lessen symptoms of dementia, including memory loss, in older adults. Music and Memory is entirely one-on-one, and for aging adults whose memory loss has already progressed significantly. It involves volunteers that visit the patient’s family and friends and put together a specially curated playlist just for the patient of music that they love and are familiar with. The music is then downloaded to an MP3 player with headphones, and from there, Georgia Gunter visits the patients one-on-one.

Georgia said that in her experience, the Music and Memory program has helped calm symptoms of Sundown Syndrome in her clients. Sundown Syndrome is an unpleasant symptom of Alzheimer’s and dementia and includes insomnia, anxiety, pacing, hallucinations, paranoia, and confusion. It also brightens each patient’s mood and brings them back to good memories and times.

“As a child of the 70s and early 80s, I feel so good when I listen to songs from my teens or early 20s,” Georgia said. “And it isn’t just me. You feel so good when you hear music from your youth, or from a first date, or your wedding song. These songs cause you to experience joy, and it does positive things for your brain.”

AgeWell Atlanta Program Manager, Jennifer Curry, echoed that sentiment: “My mom loved Led Zeppelin until the day she died, and that was all the way into her eighties. The music we love when we are young never leaves our hearts.”

As of now, Georgia visits about 30 patients a year through the Music and Memory program, and has seen the power of the program many times.

“I have a client who is only 62 with late-stage Alzheimer’s that started when she was in her 40s, and who is non-verbal,” Georgia said. “But once I put on her music, which happened to be disco music that she loves, she went from being completely unresponsive and not even getting out of bed, to getting out of bed and dancing with me.”

AgeWell Atlanta partners with the best Atlanta community services to give callers the strongest resources possible for all questions and concerns they have about aging. Our caring and knowledgeable concierges regularly assist those who contact us with questions about maintaining an active lifestyle as you age, where to find residential communities in Atlanta, at-home care services, and more. 

If you have any age-related questions or concerns, or more questions and Brain Health Bootcamp or Music and Memory, please contact us today.