Alacare uses music to improve patient memories

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By Sarrah Peters

News Editor

Alacare Home Health and Hospice has been using music to help the memories of its hospice clients.

Alacare’s Music and Memory program focuses on patients suffering from a dementia-related disease, depression or agitation. To implement the program, volunteers speak with the family and patient, if they are able to communicate, to determine the patient’s favorite music and songs are. Then, music with significant meaning to the client is downloaded onto an iPod. The iPods are presented to the caregiver, with instructions on how to operate them. Additionally, Alacare provides chargers, speakers and headphones that are needed. The iPods are kept until the caregiver no longer wants them or until the client passes away.

“I have personally seen patients who were completely non-verbal and very rarely open their eyes seemingly wake up and begin to sing, talk, and smile like there wasn’t a care in the world,” said Chaz Tankersley, volunteer and community relations coordinator. “I don’t know that there is a better feeling than giving a person their livelihood back, even if it just for a few moments. The blessing in giving a caregiver a moment with the person they used to know is something that cannot be matched.”

The improvements in condition give caretakers much-needed relief. 

Alacare began the Music and Memory program about a year ago, and so far has been able to assist 20 families in the Gadsden area. The program is offered in 21 areas and has helped almost 80 patients throughout Alabama.

Alacare’s Music and Memory program is based off a national program founded by social worker Dan Cohen and the documentary Alive Inside, which is centered around the benefits of musical therapy for dementia.

Several iPod drives have been held throughout Alabama to support Alacare’s efforts. Unclaimed Baggage recently donated 50 iPods.

To donate money, visit www.alacare.com/donations. To donate old iPods, mail them to Volunteer Services, 2400 John Hawkins Parkway, Birmingham AL 35244.

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