When working with people with dementia, you quickly realize that each person’s symptoms are quite unique. To reach each person in our program, we’re constantly trying new activities geared toward different cultures, levels of functioning and ways of understanding information. We strive to provide cognitive stimulation in a variety of ways in order to connect with our seniors and help them function to the best of their abilities.
This time of year lends itself to celebrating holidays in many creative ways. We often use things like art, music and reminiscence therapy. In our dementia program, the Activities Coordinator sends home supplies so that the seniors can make Easter bonnets and then wear them to our annual Easter Hat Parade. Every year, we’re amazed by the quality of work that goes into making the hats at home. This activity is therapeutic for the senior and the caregiver, as it allows time together to reminisce and do something fun.
Using music and culture is another way we connect with our members with dementia. We offer music therapy regularly and each session has a new focus, depending on the season, the groups’ interest and level of functioning. During a session last week, our student intern spontaneously started singing songs native to a small village in Puerto Rico. Ms. N. is from this village, and it was simply amazing to see what happened to her when she heard the songs. She’s been coming to our center for over 3 years, she doesn’t usually participate in music and we’ve never seen her sing. When the intern started singing, Ms. N. stood up, sang every word to all the songs and became tearful with joy. Her whole personality and mood was transformed the moment she heard those songs.
I was so moved by what we saw, and it really related to a meeting I had last week with Dan Cohen, Executive Director of Music & Memory. His company’s goal is to improve quality of life through the use of ipods. A recent Newsday article called it “iPod therapy.” His program is in 11 nursing homes on Long Island and in New York City,and it involves creating personalized iPod playlists for seniors. I literally got chills watching a video that showed how listening to iPods completely transformed behavior in agitated and depressed seniors. This is music therapy gone high tech! If you’re interested in learning more about his program or donating old iPods or iTunes gift cards, check out http://www.musicandmemory.org/.
[...] from last week’s post about valuing all cultures here at the center, today we’re celebrating Passover with members in [...]— A Day in the Life » Blog Archive » Celebrating All Cultures / April 28th, 2011 at 2:40 pm