Music Offers A Powerful Connection To Those With Dementia
Anne Conklin, Activity Director at Evergreen Senior Care and Rehab Center has been working on a very exciting pilot program with Miles for Memories called Melodious Memories. The program focuses on music and Alzheimer’s-type dementia and we’re seeing some positive responses among the residents.
One particular long term resident at the facility, we’ll call him David, is in the last stages of dementia. Over time, as his dementia progressed, he became more difficult to engage and it became unclear what he was able to understand. He was unable to express his wants, was failing to recognize family and definitely lost the sparkle in his eyes. During the regularly scheduled facility music events - sing a longs, karaoke - his responses became less and less. None-the-less, he was chosen as a participant in the pilot, in part, because he had always loved music.
Through the Melodious Memories program, he is offered and provided with music at least five times a week. His wife provided a list of music he had always enjoyed and that music was loaded onto a SanDisk and headphones were provided. Listening is usually between 30 minutes to an hour. His responses have ranged from being agitated to calming and falling asleep, smiling, making and holding good eye contract, tapping his hand or foot to the beat of the music – even humming and moving his head with the music.
We are so pleased with his responses and the fact that he once again seems to be finding joy in music. His wife states that he’s generally in a better mood, he sometimes holds her hand, and that the sparkle has returned to his eyes. We are eager to continue this program with David and with other residents who may also benefit – and we looking forward to expanding the program, making it more widely available to others who may benefit.
Melodious Memories is certainly not a cure for dementia, but it is a way to make many dementia sufferers happier and more comfortable for a longer period of time.
Click the player above to hear music therapist Elizabeth Raleigh discuss it further.
Miles for Memories is creating solutions for those impacted by dementia in Calhoun County through movement, programming and research. Our Signature Event is September 16 – a community walk/stroll starting at Wave Square at 10:00 a.m. For additional information, call (269) 979-1412 or visit Miles for Memories on Facebook.