Alzheimer’s Association celebrates Black History Month at Memory Café

The Island Now
Napoleon Revels-Bey performs at the Memory Café

The Alzheimer’s Association welcomed the Long Island community at its virtual Memory Café event on Feb. 4. Percussionist Napoleon Revels-Bey kept toes tapping throughout the evening with a lively mix of music and storytelling that celebrated Black history.

During the Memory Café, Revels-Bey traced the history of American music from its roots in Africa and the Caribbean. The audience enjoyed a performance that began with blues, jazz and ragtime before moving into swing and big band songs and finishing with early rock and roll, Motown and R & B classics. Mr. Revels-Bey engaged the crowd by inviting them to dance and sing with the music.

Kate Anastasia, director of programs at the Alzheimer’s Association, Long Island Chapter, says, “Though the event was virtual, Napoleon and the audience had a lot of fun. Music is wonderful for those affected by Alzheimer’s. As we saw during the Memory Café, people with the disease can often remember old favorites and sing or hum along.”

Memory Cafés are specially designed for people with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive issues and their caregivers. They often feature music, which can be therapeutic for people at all stages of the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association offers several tips for caregivers interested in incorporating music at home:

• Identify enjoyable, familiar music. If possible, let the person choose what they like.
• Avoid music that is interrupted by commercials, which can cause confusion, and make sure the volume isn’t too loud.
• Use music to create a mood, whether tranquil and calm or fast-paced and lively.
• Encourage movement such as dancing or clapping.
Mr. Revels-Bey—an Alzheimer’s caregiver for his wife—is a professional musician and arts educator who has performed on Broadway and with legends such as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight. He is a Hempstead native now based in Uniondale.
The Alzheimer’s Association, Long Island Chapter offers free virtual programs and services for people in Nassau and Suffolk counties. For information, visit its website or call 800.272.3900.

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