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$263k federal grant will put MP3 players in 74 nursing homes to help patients with dementia

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 01. 2018 9:09PM
This photo is from the Facebook page of Music & Memory, a nationally recognized program. Its website says “musical favorites tap deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring participantsback to life.” The New Hampshire Health Care Association has received a grant to pay for the equipment and training to put music in the hands of residents in 74 nursing facilities around the state. (COURTESY)

That song they played when you first kissed your wife.

The song you danced to with your son at his wedding.

That song your family gathered around the fireplace and sang at Christmas.

These are the types of songs that arouse nostalgia but can also have a calming effect on a person with dementia, research has shown.

Within the next three months, 74 nursing facilities across the state will be outfitted with MP3 players and iTunes cards to help those suffering with dementia build personal playlists. When the person feels lonely or appears agitated, their music is played to them.

It’s called “Music & Memory” and it’s a nationally recognized program. The New Hampshire Health Care Association received a $262,800 federal grant to pay for the equipment and training, said Roxie Severance, consultant for the program. She said it’s hoped that all equipment will be distributed and training will be complete by March 27.

“Music, it wakes up things in people’s minds,” Severance said. “It lights up a part of the brain and it feeds your soul.”

Music & Memory recommends a person have at least 100 chosen songs in their library and they should have meaning — whether it was a favorite song growing up or a song associated with a happy memory.

She said the process of coming up with the playlist can be positive in itself for both the patient and their families.

“The reminiscing piece is huge, particularly if the family is involved,” Severance said. “It’s a really personalized part of a person’s daily care program.”

Severance said using an MP3 player and personalized playlists can also help at-home caregivers.

“If they can use music for 20 minutes when a person is repeating themselves over and over again or trying to get out the door, this music may provide some respite.”

Music & Memory has already been in use in six New Hampshire nursing facilities with success, Severance said.

This grant money will allow the program to be implemented at a total of 74 facilities. She said every worker in each facility will be trained and allowed to provide a patient their music and MP3 player.

For example, if a worker comes into a room with a food tray or to pick up laundry and notices a patient is upset, they can offer the music, she said.

Severance said the grant money comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is paid for through fines and penalties it has collected from New Hampshire nursing homes.

All fines and penalties are put into a fund to improve the quality of nursing care.

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