At Wilton Meadows Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, music is frequently used as an essential factor in creating a positive environment for residents. The facility is taking that philosophy one step further, thanks to recent research and its “Music & Memory” program to revealed that music can do so much more than previously thought for the care of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia and neurological impairments.

These conditions can rob a person of memory and identity. Wilton Meadows health care staff is implementing recent research that has shown music can help individuals recover memories, stimulate recognition and enhance quality of life.

“We are very proud to be a newly certified Music & Memory facility,” says Danielle Ancona, director of therapeutic recreation and a certified dementia practitioner at Wilton Meadows. “This is a phenomenal program that allows us to deliver personalized music to those in our care. Music is a lifeline to those with dementia. Where words often fail, music can thrive.”

Founded in 2006, Music & Memory is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirm using digital music technology. Each resident is provided with an iPod loaded with a person-specific playlist of favorite songs and preferred genres of music. Family members are enlisted to help provide such specific music interests. Volunteers then assist with the compilation of playlists and subsequent loading onto the devices.

“The personalized playlists are key. Some residents love classical music; others the big bands. One resident who was a Sunday school teacher responds to religious music. Knowing our residents and their histories is critical in implementing this program effectively,” says Ancona.

Listening to favorite music often triggers feelings and memories of the past. Holiday music, songs played at weddings or favorite tunes can break through the isolation of dementia and bring back memories. A resident will respond to their wedding song, though they may not remember their spouse’s name or when they married. Residents become more cheerful and less agitated and can sit contentedly for longer periods of time. Residents who previously were remote, disengaged and completely unresponsive can remarkably become animated, tap, sway and sing to favorite rhythms.

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The dedicated staff at Wilton Meadows health care center have been trained to understand the whole procedure. Additionally, a music therapist on staff provides one-to-one music visits.

Readers who are interested in learning more, or those would like to become a part of this program at Wilton Meadows, can contact Ancona via email. Donations of gently used iPods are always welcome.

Wilton Meadows is located at 439 Danbury Rd..