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Music in the Nursing Home — Focusing on Quality of Life

A few months ago a YouTube video went viral which showed how listening to music seemed to open up a flood of emotions and memories for many nursing homes patients with Alzheimer’s. We often discuss how beyond just eliminating accidents and ensuring adequate care, the best assisted living facilities are places where seniors are able to thrive in their golden years. Accomplishing that goal often requires caregivers to take an individual approach which takes each resident’s unique challenges, hopes, strengths, and weaknesses into account.

Of course, the best individual care also requires a sufficient number of caregivers with proper training and access to equipment/services. Sadly, in the drive to maximize profits, many facility owners and operators fail to commit those needed resources. As a result, far too many seniors languish in homes where their actual happiness and ability to meaningfully interact with the world around them is not prioritized.

Hopefully more and more community members will apply pressure to these facilities so that unique programs are integrated into more homes. Music offers one of the best ways to begin this more holistic caregiving approach.

Memory & Music
For example, a Forbes story recently touched back on the issue, exploring how the use of music–a simple, inexpensive tool–could do wonders for many nursing home residents, particularly those with cognitive ailments.

The article shares information on the NY based organization, Music & Memory, which seeks to greatly expand the memory-based power of music from one’s past. The main idea of the program is to donate music equipment–mostly ipods–to nursing home for use in music-based therapies for Alzheimer’s residents. The organization’s website succinctly explains that “beloved music often calms chaotic brain activity and enables the listener to focus on the present moment and regain a connection to others.”

Beyond highlighting the importance of the innovative approaches to senior care, the Music & Memory organization is also a testament to the fact that even seemingly commonplace equipment and services are often absent at long-term care facilities. For younger generations, access to the countless forms of music equipment, from ipods and mp3 players to music-enabled phones, is a given. Virtually everyone seemingly has access to these tools–they no longer seem like a luxury.

But even simple pleasures are a luxury for seniors in a nursing home who depend on caregivers for virtually everything–from sufficient meals to help moving to and from the restroom. For something like access to music, if the caregivers do not provide it, then the senior is likely to go without. Many caregivers are given little flexibility by operators regarding the funds they can use for support services like music players. Therefore, organizations like Music & Memory are critical, by providing music players they may be the only chance some seniors have to take advantage of potential beneficial music therapies.

The neglect attorneys at our firm applaud these efforts to focus on the actual quality of life of our community members in nursing homes. Even seniors with seemingly severe cognitive impairments deserve a fair shake at living their best life.

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