Program Benefits Elders and Staff throughout Jewish Home

ipodThe therapeutic benefit of music, coupled with modern technology, is the basis of a program used across Jewish Home’s nursing home campuses to help renew the lives of residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  Now, thanks to assistance from UJA-Federation of New York, Jewish Home has received a grant from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation enabling us to expand this highly successful program to our Community Services Division.

The Music and Memory program, developed by Dan Cohen, MSW and spearheaded at Jewish Home by Deirdre Downes, Corporate Director of Social Work Initiatives, uses music to trigger memories that can help elders reconnect and improve the quality of their lives.

Grounded in extensive neuroscience research about how the brain responds to music, healthcare professionals are seeing life-changing experiences for those involved. Music is a source of comfort and pleasure for many individuals with dementia. Studies have shown music can increase cooperation and attention and improve an elder’s engagements and socialization, creating a calmer environment.

With the help of Cohen’s not-for-profit organization, Jewish Home staff and volunteers are trained to create and provide personalized iPod song playlists for the nursing home residents, using specialized questionnaires. Discovering each elder’s favorite musical genre, recording artists and specific songs is an exciting part of the process—one that engages family, staff and residents.

Music and Memory has been implemented at Jewish Home’s Manhattan and Westchester campuses.

It’s amazing that such a compact electronic device can bring so much joy and engagement to our residents,” said Barbara Mullins, RN, of Jewish Home’s Sarah Neuman Center in Westchester where the Music and Memory program has been a great success.