For many people with dementia, getting the support necessary to promote optimal quality of life while living alone at home can be a challenge. That’s where Music & Memory® has made a major difference for a homecare company in Ohio. Home Care Assistance of Cincinnati (HCA), an in-home senior care service providing personal care and lifestyle assistance to the elderly in the Cincinnati area, is sold on integrating Music & Memory into their clients’ care plans.
When HCA owner Will Reid first learned of Music & Memory through the Alive Inside documentary, the personalized music program made perfect sense. He found many similarities between Music & Memory’s person-centered method and Home Care Assistance’s holistic approach to caregiving. “Home Care Assistance looks at the whole person,” Will says, “from nutrition to hydration to cognitive activities. Ultimately what we’re looking for is a sense of purpose and calmness and social ties, and music is really helpful in that regard. Music & Memory is very much a natural extension of what we already do.”
Known for the quality of their care, HCA specializes in live-in care, which allows older adults to age in place at home. “We are there to make their day more enjoyable and comfortable,” Will says. What better way to do that than to add some music to the mix?
So in the spring of 2017, HCA signed up for MUSIC & MEMORY® Certification and launched a pilot program, bringing personalized music to seven of their clients living with dementia at home. Working together with families’ input, staff created the clients’ personalized playlists, and caregivers used the digital music devices loaded with their clients’ favorite music on their daily visits. The results were impressive. For six of the seven clients, listening to their personalized playlists prevented sundowning and reduced anxiety, particularly at night or during stressful times of the day. Each time they listened to their playlist, the joy of hearing their favorite, familiar tunes improved their mood.
Better yet were the unexpected positive results for the caregivers. Music & Memory not only made their jobs easier, but was just plain fun. Caregivers loved listening to music with their clients and enjoyed strengthened relationships, bonding over fond memories and stories. During the pilot, they were eager to learn what was or wasn’t working well and made necessary adjustments.
When one client wasn’t enjoying listening to music with headphones, her caregiver came up with a creative alternative. She knew that the client loved being on the computer, so she replicated her playlist in Youtube and played it in the background. The client could comfortably enjoy her playlist while using the computer independently. “It made her life that much better. If it makes anything more enjoyable, we have to do it,” Will says.
Families enjoyed the music, too. They appreciated Music & Memory’s reliability and accessibility; Home Care Assistance has even encouraged families to use the music devices on their own time to keep the positive effects going. “It’s like a domino effect,” Will explains. Caregivers, clients and families all benefit.
Months later, six pilot participants are still using Music & Memory and benefitting from access to personalized music. Buoyed by that success, Home Care Assistance Cincinnati plans to offer Music & Memory to all clients, not just those with dementia. “Originally we wanted to roll it out to only clients that have some form of dementia, because we felt it could have the most impact in that group,” Will says.
Now that they’ve seen Music & Memory’s benefits for people with dementia, they are looking forward to offering personalized music to others and integrating it in their care plans. “Music & Memory is a tool in our toolbelt,” Will says, a new option that they are excited to offer clients as part of their comprehensive care plan. What advice would Will give to homecare agencies or caregivers at home who may want to incorporate Music & Memory into their care plan? “Just roll up your sleeves and do it.”