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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Music Connects Alzheimer’s Patients to Their Pasts, Reduces Meds

One of the biggest challenges with Alzheimer’s patients can be figuring out how to keep them engaged without agitating them. It seems that the answer might be quite simple: Music.

At NYC Health + Hospitals, the system’s Coler facility has seen a bonus from using music with its residents: Since the facility adopted its Music & Memory program, use of antipsychotic medication has dropped by 12%. Additionally, patients have had no fights or falls.

Music & Memory uses iPods and personalized music to reach people living with Alzheimer's. It’s been implemented in more than 2,000 facilities in the United States and eight countries. Ten states have initiatives to implement the program statewide: Wisconsin, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, New Mexico, Missouri, Texas, California, West Virginia, and Illinois.

The Coler facility has released a video showing how the music program has impacted residents and staff members. The video shows that when residents are given headphones to listen to music that they knew in their past, they start smiling, interacting with staff, and even dancing. Staff members are less stressed about keeping residents comfortable, one nurse said.

Ravindra Amin, MD, chief of psychiatry at Coler, says the music “helps us get in touch with that person’s humanity.” He reminds us: “Dementia is not an identity. It is a diagnosis, and people still continue to be the people that they are.”

Jovemay Santos, director of therapeutic recreation at the facility, says that music provides the ability to bring back a person for a moment or a day and “is worth more than 1,000 words.” We applaud NYC Health + Hospitals and other facilities that keep striving to reach Alzheimer’s patients with compassionate care that recognizes their individuality. (Editor’s note: To keep up with Alzheimer’s news, check out our Neurology Alert publication. For breaking healthcare news, follow us on Twitter @HospitalReport.)

Joy Daughtery Dickinson is executive editor of the hospital group of publications at AHC Media in Atlanta and long-time editor and writer of Same-Day Surgery. She has won nine national awards from the Specialized Information Publishers Association and the Association of Business Information & Media Companies for her blogging, news writing, and editing. She makes her home in southwest Georgia.