United Church Homes recently became a certified provider of the Music & Memory program, the nationally recognized organization that is transforming the treatment and care of people with Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, physical limitations and ongoing health challenges.
Dan Cohen, executive director, founded Music & Memory, whose efforts to engage Alzheimer’s patients using personalized music was featured in the film, Alive Inside. The documentary film was launched last fall in 60 cities, including Dayton and Columbus. United Church Homes held a private screening of the film for its corporate and community leaders last October, a step that ultimately led to the decision to partner with Music & Memory.
The program is focused on bringing joy to the lives of people suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, as well as an array of other cognitive impairments, through the use of music.
The approach is simple and effective: train caregivers in long-term care communities to create personalized music playlists on iPods for residents. These playlists — in essence, a soundtrack of someone’s life — can tap deep memories not lost to dementia and can re-awaken residents, enabling those who are withdrawn to become social, those who are non-communicative to converse, and those who are depressed to become more responsive. Alive Inside documented these phenomena again and again.
The encouraging results are grounded in extensive neuroscience research — our brains respond to music in multiple ways, all of which help create a more positive environment. The research has been tested and proven in hundreds of Music & Memory certified care facilities, with the personalized music program helping thousands of residents and the individuals who provide care for them.
The experience of many facilities participating in the Music & Memory program has been transformative. Testimonials indicate the social environment is calmer and more congenial, that families are thrilled to find their loved ones more engaged, and caregivers are spending more quality time with each individual. Approximately four percent of Ohio’s skilled nursing communities are certified.
Fairhaven, Chapel Hill, Patriot Ridge, Parkvue, Four Winds, Trinity Communities and Friendship Village of Columbus all completed the staff training and certification process in April and are now acquiring the requisite hardware — iPods, laptops and headphones — to begin the program. United Church Homes’ Advancement Department has secured donations to implement and launch this important project.
“Alive Inside caused us to rethink the possibilities associated with providing abundant life to those in our care,” said Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO. “We view our engagement with Music & Memory as one way to make those possibilities be available to everyone.” This program is sure to become an integral part of our signature program of resident directed care on into the future.