Local musician helping those with Alzheimer’s

It is said where words leave off, music begins.

Some of the residents at La Crosse’s Bethany St. Joseph Care Center may not have many words left to say or stories they can remember to tell.

But they have music.

And when you have Alzheimer’s, music seems to be the one thing that can bring back memories.

“There is something just amazing about music that it’s in you and it’s always in you,” said local musician Joe Cody.

Cody can be found playing music at different restaurants and bars in the area almost every week.

He’s known for his musical talents and ability to connect with those who watch him perform.

But when he’s not playing at restaurants or bars, you can find him performing at local senior homes.

He’s been playing music for 50 years. He’s dedicated a lot of those years at places like the Bethany St. Joseph Care Center

His music serves as something like a time machine, helping those who may have lost their memory, travel back to specific places, sometimes remembering loved ones.

“When you touch that button, musically, they begin to shine again you know? They come back.”

Nearly six million Americans are currently affected by Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin.

Bethany St. Joseph Care Director Kim Scholze says in her 32 years of working here, she’s witnessed how music heals.

“They might not be able to have a conversation with us, but once you start playing music, you see them singing, they might tap their foot, wave their hand.”

Joe’s way of connecting with people at senior homes doesn’t just come from a shared love of music.

He knows all too well what this disease can do to the people we love.

“I lost my father to Alzheimer’s you know so I have a real burden for that too you know and it’s amazing you know even though so much of the memory is gone, music connects.”

When Joe Cody’s father developed Alzheimer’s, he would bring him along to gigs and play music for him.

He saw how music evoked emotion and memory.

After all, it is said where words leave off, music begins.

“It’s just very fulfilling to me, you know it just feels like something good is happening.”