Whenever Florida’s Boca Raton Fire Rescue ambulance team arrives at a nursing home, Andrea Entus makes a point to talk with the residents. Especially when they’re called to an Alzheimer’s unit, she tries to reach out.
“On one call recently, there were six of us, plenty of help” says Entus, who serves as a firefighter, paramedic and registered nurse with the Advanced Life Support crew. “A lot of the residents just want someone to chat with them. I try to meet them wherever they’re at.”
Inspired by Alive Inside
It was that sensitivity, plus her passion for documentaries, that led Entus to watch Alive Inside on Netflix not long ago. “I was in tears,” she says. “I thought, you can’t do enough to get out the word about this program.“
After reading through the Music & Memory website, she asked how she could help as a volunteer. And that’s how Entus became a Music & Memory Ambassador, with the goal of encouraging nursing homes around Boca to become MUSIC & MEMORY® Certified Facilities.
Her first step: sending five area facilities a packet she created, including a cover letter, Music & Memory’s resource guides, list of research references and a newsletter, plus a DVD of Alive Inside. The next step: follow up calls, after she gets through a crunch of exams for her nurse practitioner degree at Nova Southeastern University.
Not Even a Radio Playing
Many emergency visits to nursing homes over the past 20 years have convinced Entus of the importance of Music & Memory’s personalized music program. “Every day we get calls from nursing homes,” she says. “They can range from a cardiac arrest to someone who tripped and fell. But I’ve noticed, wherever I go, music is absent from these facilities. Maybe there’s a TV on, or once in a while, someone is playing the piano or organ in a common room. More often, there’s not even a radio playing.
“When you call 911,” she continues, “something is really wrong. When we arrive, it really makes a difference if you offer a hand to hold.”
Music, she observes, has a similar effect: “I believe there’s a music-body connection. Music just puts you in a good place. Alive Inside makes it so clear. There’s someone still there, inside, and music taps them. You can’t tell me music isn’t connected to our souls.”
Founded in 2010, MUSIC & MEMORY® is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirm through digital music technology, vastly improving quality of life.