Homestead introduces Music & Memory Program for residents

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Members of the Bob and Ida Schiek family review the new song books and hymnals purchased with a donation made to The Homestead Activities Department in their memory. They are from left: Kris Schiek, daughter-in-law; Ron Schiek, son; and Penny Schiek, daughter. The books were dedicated during a brief ceremony at The Homestead, during which the Rev. Jeff Childs of the Penn Yan United Methodist Church, the Schieks' pastor, and the Rev. Elizabeth Boesen, Homestead chaplain, read scripture and said a prayer.
Below, Homestead resident Rose Marie Weller uses one of the new books during the sing-a-long held following the dedication service.
The Music & Memory program has been introduced to help those suffering from dementia or other cognitive and physical challenges, to find renewed meaning and connection in their lives through the gift of personalized music.

“It is amazing to watch a resident who is restless and agitated put on the headphones and immediately have a change of mood. Some residents will just start moving to the music, tap their feet and move their arms. Others will sing or hum. Some will close their eyes and relax and enjoy the music.”

These are just some of the comments made by staff about the Music & Memory program instituted at The Homestead of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital in Penn Yan.

Music has been proven to help reduce adverse behaviors with people experiencing dementia and to help reduce the need for medications to control those behaviors. At The Homestead, the Music & Memory program has been introduced to help those suffering from dementia or other cognitive and physical challenges, to find renewed meaning and connection in their lives through the gift of personalized music.

The program was supported by funding from the John D. Kelly Memorial Award presented annually by the Finger Lakes Health Foundation to support a project at the Penn Yan hospital to benefit patients, long term care residents, various services, clients or staff. The award memorializes John Kelly, who served as president of Soldiers & Sailors for 13 years prior to his death in 1996. Kelly had a strong commitment to providing accessible health care to the underserved in the rural Finger Lakes Region.

Additionally, a donation made in memory of Sue Schwingle, longtime activities aide at The Homestead, who died in 2013, also supported the program, which will be named in her honor at an upcoming ceremony.

The Music & Memory program is being piloted on the Neurobehavioral Unit at The Homestead with great success. The program trains caregivers how to set up personalized music playlists, delivered on iPods and other digital devices, for those in their care. These musical favorites tap deep memories not lost to dementia, and can bring participants back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize and stay present.

Ongoing research and evaluation of the program shows:

Participants are happier and more social.

· Relationships among staff, participants and family deepen.

· Everyone benefits from a calmer, more supportive social environment.

· Staff regains valuable time previously lost to behavior management issues.

· There is growing evidence that a personalized music program gives professionals one more tool in their effort to reduce reliance on anti-psychotic medications.

Delores Morgan, daughter of Homestead resident Helene Ike, commented on the Music & Memory program, saying, the Music and Memory program “is an absolute Godsend for my mother. When she gets angry, nothing was working, but from day one, this program has made her calm and peaceful; it puts a smile on her face. It is a wonderful program. I’m so thankful for it.”