Gold Coast Arts Center program uses music, film to combat memory loss

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Provided by the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck.

At the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck, the arts are being enlisted to help people suffering from memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.

“The arts are for everyone,” said Regina Gil, founder and executive director for the arts center.

The center’s Making Memories program invites anyone who may be suffering from any form of memory loss to come in and gain exposure to a variety of art, including dance and music classes and watching films.

“One of the many favorite anecdotal experiences I witnessed was during a dance session, and this older gentleman went up to his wife and asked her to dance,” Gil said. “As they’re dancing along, I saw tears start to stream down her face. It wasn’t until afterwards that I found out her husband had not been able to speak for the past two years up until that very moment.”

The program was founded in 2017 and has been led by Marcy Rhodes, a licensed social worker with a background working in neurology.  Her involvement stretches to a similar program in Huntington dating to 2013. 

“The music that we listen to in our teens and 20s resonates with us the longest,” Rhodes said.  “Mainly because those experiences that we collectively gain throughout those years are the ones that are so significant to our mental and physical development as people.”

Though most cases of memory loss tend to be associated with older people, the turnout can include people from the 30s to 90s.  

“The median age I would say is around 55 and over,” Caroline Sorokoff, associate director of Gold Coast, said of a typical event. “For a lot of the people participating, it will be one of the seldom times they leave their residencies throughout the week. So for them to come spend time with us and improving their lives in the process, is something we love to be a part of.”

Studies described on alzheimers.net concluded that some of the last remaining traits for those who suffer from memory loss are musical aptitude and appreciation.  Working music or some art form into a person’s everyday life can start to stimulate the brain and lead to an increase of memory recollection, speech or physical movements.

The next session will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 11:30 a.m, taking a trip back to the Roaring 20s with films such as “Chicago” and “The Great Gatsby.” To learn more, visit www.goldcoastarts.org/making-memories/, or call 516-829-2570 to reserve a spot in the upcoming session.

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