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HorizonsMay 20, 2021

— updated Jul 21, 2021

Researching Alzheimer's in Women

Dorit ’21 combines research and passion for music

By Dorothy Shi ’21, Horizons Media Team

Dorit ’21 is interested in music and music therapy, and advocates for using music to uplift people. After volunteering for two years in nursing homes, Dorit became interested in why women seem to disproportionately represent Alzheimer’s patients. Part of her Horizons work included researching that topic, and Dorit continues to study music production and music theory. Horizons Media Team member Dorothy Shi ’22 caught up with Dorit in the spring of 2021 for this interview.

What inspired you to start this project? What kind of work are you doing?

I volunteered in two nursing homes for the past two years, including last year with Kimball Farms in Lenox. Music has always been part of my life, and I’m interested in how to incorporate music into peoples’ daily lives and brighten their days. I’m currently self-studying music production and music theory to deepen my understanding of music and instruments. I also read books about music therapy and how it benefits different groups of people, such as the elderly with dementia; children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, people with intellectual disabilities, and speech and language disorders; and adults with mental illness, addictions, or traumatic brain injury.

Can you tell us about your Horizons project and the paper you researched and presented?

Through my experiences volunteering in nursing homes, I noticed that the majority of residents were women, and I became interested in the reasons behind the disproportionate gender difference for Alzheimer’s Disease. As part of my Horizons Senior Independent Research Project, I completed a research paper, “Analysis on Risk Factors of Women in Alzheimer’s Disease,” that I presented in October at the 2020 International Conference on Public Health and Data Science (ICPHDS) in Guangzhou, China. By having conversations with people who specialized in different fields, I broadened my horizons and learned a lot about current social issues related to public health.

Dorit ’21 at Kimball Farms

As part of her Horizons 2019-20 junior internship at Kimball Farms, a retirement community in nearby Lenox, Dorit ’21 performed weekly in the Life Enrichment Memory Care center, which serves residents affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s. Dorit played and sang a mix of classical and popular songs for about thirty minutes each week.

 

What are some of the takeaways and challenges from this process?

I learned to appreciate music more and to explore my potential skills to help more people in need. A challenge was that I was not able to physically be in an organization that conducts music therapy, which would have provided a great way for me to gain practical experience.

What did you enjoy most throughout the process?

I enjoyed learning about different practical uses of music in peoples’ lives and how peoples’ mental and physical states improve with the help of music therapy.

What is an end goal you hope to achieve?

I hope I’m able to study music production, be able to have a live performance, if possible, and develop a deeper understanding of music therapy.

Did this project connect to your future career plans? Is this the field you want to pursue in the future?

I plan to study psychology or social science in college and in the future, but music therapy is a specific area of my interest and one of my passions.

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