Music & Memory initiative helps dementia patients reconnect - April 28 2015

Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh program among Ladies Benevolent Society grant recipients

OSHKOSH, WI - Music has been shown through research to help individuals in advanced stages of dementia to reconnect with others through emotional, physical and visual stimulation.

The Music & Memory program at Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh has been finding great success among the hundreds of care facilities in Wisconsin that are also developing similar programs, says Chris Dicus, activity director for Bethel Home.

Supported in part by the Ladies Benevolent Society: Advocates for Older Adults (LBS:AOA), the initiative is one of 14 to benefit from a total $32,163 in grants in spring 2015.

Photo caption: GLADYS, A RESIDENT OF BETHEL HOME, experiences a more relaxed state when she's listening to a custom playlist of old hymns and Broadway show tunes on an iPod. She is among a growing number of older adults struggling with dementia who are benefiting from the Music & Memory program.

The Music & Memory program is designed to bring life enrichment through personalized music programming tailored for each participant, says Dicus. Using Apple iPods, music playlists are tailored to the likes and history of each individual. Through talking with the resident (if possible) and interviewing family members and spouses, Dicus and Bob Archer, Minister of Music for Lutheran Homes, create a musical library for each individual with specific songs, artists and arrangements.

Dicus and Archer have been working with Gladys, a resident at Bethel Home who has been struggling with dementia.

"She has confusion and emotional/mood swings that can be frustrating for her and challenge her daily quality of life," Dicus says. Gladys was a choir singer in churches for many years and loves old hymns and Broadway show tunes. Archer created a song list that includes old hymns and show tunes from the 1940s, 50s and 60s that touch her spiritually and emotionally, Dicus says.

"When Gladys is struggling, or agitated and confused, we can place the headphones and the iPod on her and she will quickly become more relaxed and comfortable," he says. "She will often times start humming and singing along with the music. Her conversational abilities will improve and become less scattered and disjointed. She is able to relax and continue on with her day in a much better emotional and spiritual state."

More than 20 residents are participating in the program. The LBS:AOA grant helped provide the equipment and music.

The following grants were awarded by LBS:AOA:

Alzheimer's Association of Greater Wisconsin: $1,000
Support for expanding Oshkosh Memory Café activities.

Bethel Foundation of Oshkosh, Inc.: $2,000
To provide technology equipment for residents to participate in the statewide Music & Memory Initiative.

Cerebral Palsy of Mideast Wisconsin, Inc.: $1,000
Support for the Life Basics Program, which teaches older adults with disabilities skills such as healthy eating and cooking methods and ways to stay fit.

Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Inc.: $2,500
Support for elderly victims of domestic violence and outreach efforts in the community.

Clarity Care, Inc.: $5,000
Support for the Help At Home program, which provides adults with supportive home care so they can stay in their homes longer.

Evergreen Foundation, Inc.: $2,300
To develop a Life Enrichment program that engages older adults in programs that combat the negative effects of isolation.

Evergreen Foundation, Inc.: $2,000
Employee training support through the LBS:AOA Scholarship Fund.

Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin & Upper Michigan, Inc.: $4,000
Support for the Adult Day Center, which provides older adults with physical and cognitive impairments access to supportive services.

Mercy Health Foundation: $2,000
Support for the Fitness for the Physically Challenged Program, which helps older adults with permanent disabilities gain or maintain the strength and endurance they need to live independently.

Oshkosh Area Humane Society, Inc.: $2,000
Support for the Pets for Seniors program, which helps place cats and dogs into the loving homes of seniors who might not otherwise adopt a pet due to financial barriers.

Oshkosh Seniors Center: $3,600
To develop a Nutrition Inspiration Program that will provide education and social programming for at least 60 adults in the Oshkosh area.

Park View Health Center: $2,263
To purchase a vital sign unit that will measure blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature and pulse oximetry all at once.

Winnebago County Literacy Council: $2,500
Support for the One-to-One Tutoring program, which matches people age 55 or older with a tutor to help them improve their reading, writing and speaking skills.

LBS:AOA grants focus on improving the health and well-being of older adults in the Oshkosh area. They are administered through a field of interest fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. For more information, contact Director of Programs Amy Putzer at 920-426-3993 or by email at Amy@OshkoshAreaCF.org.

The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization created by and for the people of Winnebago County, Waushara County, Green Lake County and Ripon. Through charitable giving, the Foundation strives to make our communities thrive.

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