Advice on Aging
Toni Lynn Davis, MHA, CNHA, FACHCA
CEO/President Green Hill Inc.
Music Can Awaken Seniors with Dementia.Culture Change in senior healthcare is a growing movement across the nation that focuses senior care on person-centered care instead of on an institutional approach of set schedules and organizational needs. The mission of culture change is to enhance ‘quality of life’ along with ‘quality of care’. As an executive board member of the New Jersey Alliance for Culture Change, and as the President and Executive Director of Green Hill in New Jersey, I am integrally committed to the propagation of culture change in senior care in my community and across the state of New Jersey.
“Culture Change is defined as the transformation from traditional, institutional practices to person-directed practices where residents’ and staff members’ opinions are encouraged and respected. This philosophy of person-centered care is encouraged in both long and short-term living environments as well as community-based settings, where those receiving care and their caregivers are able to be part of the decisions that affect their daily lives.” New Jersey Alliance for Culture Change.
In an effort toward continual education for my team, I recently took the staff to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to participate in the ‘Second Wind’ book tour with author, Gerontologist and Green House Home® founder, Dr. Bill Thomas. Green Hill is the location of the first Green House Homes in New Jersey and has been the successful catalyst for a complete culture change of care throughout the Green Hill facility.
The program included a video of an innovative approach to the use of music to bring back to conscious thought those who are lost due to dementia, most often Alzheimer’s. One of the last parts of the brain to deteriorate from Alzheimer’s is the area where the appreciation for music lies. The video was a very emotional experience for us to witness as caregivers of seniors with dementia. We watched people who are otherwise completely unresponsive, hear a song from their past and begin to open their eyes, to smile, sway, even get up and dance, and their ability to communicate enhanced.
I cried tears of joy as I watched the reactions to music awaken these people. Communities have been using music therapy, usually in group settings, for many years in an effort to heal the body and sooth the soul. The use of music in culture change is individually tailored to one’s life experience to stimulate memory and awaken them into their own selves again.
Culture Care planning with, and of an elder and their family includes the use of past information about the person as valued input for the care team. This information, including the type of music enjoyed that may take them back to a treasured time in their life, information about one’s past employment, hobbies enjoyed, even wake and sleep times, all contribute to improvement in the quality of life and care for our elders.
When we left NJPAC and got back on our bus to return to our community the entire Green Hill team was chatting enthusiastically about the video, and how we may use individualized music therapy to unlock the memories in our residents suffering from dementia, while bringing joy to all of our elders. It was wonderful to see the team so energized and engaged with the utilization of music, already social staple at Green Hill, and use this new technique so our elders with dementia may once again awaken to life.
Here is the link to the awesome video!!! It’s called music and memories. Www.musicandmemory.org.