Music is powerful, able to unlock memories long forgotten, able to comfort and heal. Often referred to as the backdoor to memory, music buries itself deep into our brains and penetrates the soul unlike any other medium humans can experience. This is why just a few measures of music from our childhood or adolescence brings back sweeping memories of lyrics, melody, and memories associated with the music.
When a young girl sang a timeless hymn to her aging great-grandmother, the result was stunningly beautiful. The Erway family was gathered together, enjoying a visit. Olivia Erway, seated right beside her great-grandmother, leaned in close and began singing “How Great Thou Art,” a hymn that was familiar to her great-grandmother.
As Olivia’s beautiful voice soared through the room, the unexpected happened: great-grandma began to sing along. Holly Erway posted the precious moment on Facebook with the caption, “Sweet moment as I asked Olivia to sing for her great grandmother and she started to sing along.”
The poignant moment is so heartfelt and powerful that the video has gone viral, with over 8 million views at the time of writing. Friends, family, and strangers have written to thank the family for sharing such a beautiful scene.
The musical moment the Erway family shared is a powerful example of the way music and memory go hand in hand. For friends and family who care for aging loved ones, playing music and singing together can bring joy in an often frustrating situation.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America offers suggestions on how to incorporate music into the daily care of a person living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. While the task of caring for someone with dementia can be overwhelming for a caregiver, engaging in art or music on a regular basis can provide respite from a stressful situation, soothe during periods of agitation, and help loved ones reconnect, even if for a fleeting moment.