Page 12 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - September 2017 - 24-09
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Page 12 Senior Times - September 2017
By: Sally Goss & Anne Conklin
Miles for Memories volunteers, along with Evergreen Senior Care & Rehab Center staff, have put together a pilot music therapy program to personalize play lists
on small audio players that people with dementia can listen to. Music is one aspect of memory that is last to be affected.
Anne Conklin is the Activity Director at Evergreen and has been working with dementia patients for 14 years. Anne works with each person in the program to gather information on their likes and dislikes. Each of us has grown up with a different genre of music background; it is imperative to key in on the most important music from a person’s past.
Anne will be sharing some remarkable stories to talk about how this music therapy is working in people’s lives. Make sure to look for these articles in the coming months.
Anne Conklin Shares David’s Story
At Evergreen Senior Care & Rehab Center we are very excited to be part of
a pilot program with Miles for Memories focusing on Music and Alzheimer’s-type dementia. We have been up and running for some time and are pleased to report that
we are seeing positive responses among our residents. We currently are providing the Melodious Melodies program for up
to 25 residents. We have 12 residents that listen on a scheduled program and the rest are spontaneous and sometimes by request. Today we are going to share David’s story.
David is a long term resident of our facility and is in the later stages of dementia. He was chosen to participate in this program because of where he is cognitively and for his love of music. When David came to us he always enjoyed anything to do with music, smiling broadly and clapping his hands, tapping his foot, singing along, and celebrating his love
for the music. He has declined over time
as the dementia has progressed, he is more difficult to engage and with his cognitive decline it can be unclear what he is able
to understand. He has lost the ability
to express his wants and needs and is dependent on staff to meet his needs.
His affect has become more flat, his
ability to recognize his family is failing and the sparkle in his eyes has become dim. Even with special music, sing a longs and karaoke, which are part of our monthly calendar of events, his responses have become less and less.
Now enter the Melodious Melodies program. David is part of our scheduled listening program and is offered and provided with music at least five times weekly.
We talked with his wife and made a list of music that she told us that David enjoyed. His music was then loaded onto a SanDisk and headphones were provided. As this is
an ongoing program we are still charting his responses, timelines for listening, which is usually between 30 minutes and one hour. David’s responses have ranged from
being agitated, to calming and falling asleep, smiling, making and holding good eye contact, tapping his hand/foot to the beat of the music, humming, and moving his head with the music.
David has listened intently, closing his eyes while moving to the music with a small smile on his face. On a couple of occasions he has been able to accurately answer a question while listening – “Do you enjoy the music?” “Yes, yes I do.”
During another listening time he
said “NO, NO, NO” when we attempted
to remove the headphones just before mealtime. His wife stated that David
was in a great mood, held her hand and had that sparkle in his eye again. There
are times when David declines music by removing his headphones and not allowing us to put them back on and that’s okay.
We are so pleased with his current responses, finding joy in the music, finding movement to the beats, having the sparkle return to his eyes, if only for a while. We feel that David has a better quality of life because of the music; his wife is pleased with his responses and increased affection towards her as well as his overall demeanor. We are eager to continue this program
with him and many other residents who may benefit.
Music reaches the soul, touches the heart and takes us all back in time, it can open long closed doors in the brain... we are working to open those doors.
Publisher’s Note: The Melodious Memories Program committee includes Miles for Memories volunteers Stacy Wines, CareWell Services, Michelle Lennon,
Great Lakes Caring, and Elizabeth Raleigh, Calhoun County Medical Care Facility.

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