Mariachi Bands Rekindle Faded Memories of Mexican Alzheimer’s Patients

MEXICO CITY, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Mariachi bands have long been a staple of Mexican culture, and their lively songs are now finding a new purpose: rekindling memories for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Mexican Center for Alzheimer’s Disease is promoting the therapy, hoping the music will awaken memories of the past in patients with the degenerative disease, encouraging them to sing or even dance to old, familiar tunes.

“It makes me very sad, because I remember my husband, but apart from that, I listen to music with joy because it brings back a lot of memories that make me very happy,” said Leonor Camacho, 90. Alzheimer’s disease. in Mexico.

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Songs with connections to her husband, relatives and friends are played at Camacho to supplement her daily therapy, which includes saying tongue twisters with other patients online and performing manual exercises to boost her memory.

The therapy course led by guitarists, violinists and trumpeters in short jackets and baggy sombreros began in September and will run through mid-November, encompassing performances across the city that patients can attend.

The shows take place in ballrooms, boats on the waterways of the southern district of Xochimilco and the capital’s traditional mariachi hotspot, the central Plaza Garibaldi square, in hopes the venues will rekindle patient memories. .

Regina Altena, director of the Alzheimer’s Center, said studies show music stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain, creating a mental and emotional connection that helps patients remember and reminisce about important events in their lives.

Originally developed in Germany 11 years ago, the therapy has been given a mariachi twist to adapt it for Mexican use.

Camacho, who has had Alzheimer’s disease for five years, is one of approximately 1.8 million people with dementia in Mexico. Among them, about 1.3 million would be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

During the afternoons, Camacho enjoys browsing photo albums with his daughter Maria del Rocio Maya and keeps his mind active by preparing food and doing other chores around his house.

Since Camacho began mariachi therapy, Maria del Rocio said her mother has become more lively and has resumed a more active role in family life. Before, Camacho tended to sit alone in an armchair by the window, her daughter said.

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Editing by Dave Graham and David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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