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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Many people know all too well how difficult it is to care for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Percussionist Dave Roth, whose parents have been diagnosed with the condition, is trying to make their lives a little easier.
Roth can usually be found at night on Broadway, plying his trade. But when he’s not on stage, he’s helping his parents.
“When you finally get the diagnosis, it’s heartbreaking, because you know you’re already losing them before they’re gone,” Roth said.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5,500,000 people in the United States are currently suffering from the horrible disease.
“If nothing is done, we expect to see in New York City alone, 1 out of every 5 people in New York – in less than 40 years – will either have Alzheimer’s or be taking care of someone who does,” said Lou-Ellen Barkan, President of the New York City chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
When Roth saw “Alive Inside,” a documentary that followed a social worker introducing music into the lives of people with dementia, he was inspired.
“I know the power of music an how it speaks to me,” Roth said.
Music also spoke to Roth’s mother, Nathalee. She was a choir director for 35 years before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Because of the disease, her vocabulary at one point was down to just a few words. So, Dave began singing to his mom.
“When I was singing the music with her, she was saying all the lyrics, all these words that she can’t form anymore, suddenly are coming back to her,” Roth said. “This is their way to communicate and if you do this with someone and you look in their eyes, you know you’ve given them an incredible gift and they’re giving it back.”
After seeing his mother’s progress with the music, Roth thinks every patient with Alzheimer’s could benefit the same way. He’s started a drive to collect MP3 players and distribute them to those suffering from dementia. The drive runs through August 19th, and there are several drop-off locations if you’d like to donate.
To mail or drop off donations for the Broadway Alzheimer’s iPod Drive:
Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter,
360 Lexington Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Or you can send one to:
American Federation of Musicians Local 802
Public Relations Office
322 West 48th Street
New York, NY 10036
Monetary donations should be made out and mailed to:
Music & Memory Donations
142 Emory Road
Mineola, New York 11501
“I know for my father, this is another thing for them, the connection that they’re able to share through this is priceless, because my father is losing his wife,” Roth said. “This music has given him an opportunity to exist with her.”
Please offer your thoughts on this drive in our comments section below.