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Music holds a special place in the heart and mind that time can’t erase, even when almost everything else is gone.
Like anyone visiting a loved one with dementia, Sue Mazur prepared for her regular visit with her mom, Aggie, not sure what to expect when she arrived. Her mother's home, The Woodside Neighborhood at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, specializes in dementia-specific personal care for seniors. That particular afternoon, when she reached her mother’s room, Aggie was relaxing in a chair with a pair of headphones on her head. She was keeping time to the music with her hands and smiling brightly. Sue looked on, happy, with a smile of her own.
Aggie and Sue can share this priceless time together thanks to lifestyle engagement programs at the Presbyterian SeniorCare Network Washington Campus. Along with other forms of therapy, certified specialists utilize resources such as the Music and Memory program, which provides personalized digital music to older adults. Music gives comfort to residents living with dementia, reduces frustration and late-day confusion, and offers an alternative or a reduction to the use of anti-psychotic medications.
Determining a resident’s taste in music is important. When Aggie started the program, she couldn’t remember the name of any artists, but said she liked styles such as big band and country. A specialized playlist that included these genres was customized for Aggie to enjoy.
“It’s an honor to provide personalized music to our residents,” said Gina Iuliucci, Presbyterian SeniorCare lifestyle engagement coordinator. “When someone is feeling anxious, you can see a change in demeanor as soon as the headphones are placed on his or her ears. I’m happy when they are happy. It gives me chills to know that music has made their worries melt away and will help keep them relaxed long after the music has stopped playing.”
Sue agrees: “The special songs from her past have a profound benefit,” she said. “They allow my mom to connect with family and friends in a way she wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”