“It’s pretty,” says one resident when Karen Lupton, Director of Songs for Seniors at A.G. Rhodes, places softly cushioned headphones over her ears and pushes ‘play.’ As Lupton visits with seniors, she makes it her business to figure out what kind of music each person likes and then custom loads an iPod shuffle with a playlist. This music program at A.G. Rhodes provides detailed attention to residents at the Atlanta, Cobb and Wesley Woods communities.
Cabinets on each floor serve as the music library that Lupton keeps methodically cataloged and ready to use around the clock. Headphones hang on hooks and iPod Shuffles sit in charging docks labeled with residents’ names, ready for use 24/7. Research has shown that music mitigates pain, reduces stress, and improves food intake, all conditions that cause deterioration.
“Music is growing as a non-medical intervention with measurable results,” adds Lupton.
Those with dementia may experience “sun-downing,” which is when confusion, anxiety or disorientation occurs. The result is distress, agitation or panic. Residents being undressed to bathe can trigger unease. These are times when any on-duty care-giver can grab the headphones and iPod programmed to that person’s tastes and place it over their ears to provide calm. It can even reduce the need for antipsychotic medication.
Music travels to the residents with Songs for Seniors. The playlist customized for each resident takes them on a trip down memory lane. The music allows them to relive important life events and remember who they are – weddings, first dates, perhaps songs they sang to their children.
“Musical memory is stored in the part of the brain that is last corrupted by memory loss,” explains Lupton.
At the time in life where seniors are limited in mobility and memory, a program like Songs for Seniors awakens the mind. Their favorite oldies are not just music to their ears, it’s a lifetime brought back to mind.
Story by Colleen P Ijuin
For more information about Songs for Seniors, or how you can support the program, visit www.agrhodes.org/songsforseniors.