Lifting spirits of those with dementia
In 2006, Dan Cohen, who has a background in leveraging technology to benefit those who would otherwise have no access, volunteered at a local nursing home in Greater New York, creating personalized playlists on iPods for residents. The programme was a hit with residents, staff and families, and became the prototype for a bigger effort. After testing the programme on a much bigger scale, he created the non-profit, Music & Memory in 2010.
Since then, hundreds of care organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada have implemented iPod personalized music programmes.
This is a 5 min video clip of the remarkable effect it had on a care home resident named Henry:
Music and Memory run training courses to help care organizations bring personalized playlists to their contacts.
Spouses, family members and caregivers can help boost mood by creating music soundtracks with playlists, YouTube and streaming options. Such people need to become “music detectives” to discover music loved by the people they care for, asking older relatives or friends about tunes that the dementia-affected person most listened to, or researching popular music played during the patient’s early decades of life.
While music is known for lifting moods, rising evidence shows profound responses when favourite tunes are played for those with dementia. People who have dementia retain intuitive responses that are part of feelings, creativity, appreciating music and recognizing beauty.
Musical favorites tap deep emotional recall. That favourite song brings joy, eases pain, reduces stress, and can facilitate social connection. For family members, sharing a loved one’s music can enhance visits and deepen relationships that may have seemed lost, especially to dementia. For staff, personalized music provides an entryway to more meaningful relationships with those in their care — as well as a way to ease transitions, avoid challenging behaviours, and save time.
Music and Memory report that care professionals tell them that their programme is often life-changing for everyone involved.
If you care for or work with those with dementia, may be something to pursue.
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