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Individualized Music Helps Residents Make Connections

Location : Home Office 

By Kim Butrum, MS, RN, GNP, Senior Vice President, Clinical Services

Individualizedmusic CAPTIONSLIDER

When you visit a Silverado community you may see residents wearing earphones. What they are listening to is a personalized playlist of favorite music. Music, particularly that the listener has an attachment to, has been found to have many benefits for those with dementia. 

Research has shown that music reduces agitation, anxiety, irritability and stress levels. Music that the listener has a connection with enhances relaxation, invokes long-term memories and can serve as a mode of communication. The effectiveness of the use of individualized music has been demonstrated by Dan Cohen, MSW and his “Music and Memory” program, which is documented in the “Alive Inside” documentary (available on Netflix).

At Silverado we are currently using individualized music as a non-drug treatment to help prevent anxiety and agitation. Research has shown that episodes of agitation can be avoided if a personalized playlist is played for a person with dementia 30 minutes prior to the time of day when they may get anxious or agitated.

There is growing evidence that personalized music may not only serve as a great non-pharmacological treatment for behavioral manifestations of unmet needs, but that it can also have other cognitive benefits. Research has found that use of personalized music can lead to an improvement in language tasks for those with memory-impairing diseases. 

In light of all the benefits of using personalized music, the Directors of Resident Engagement in each Silverado community will be talking with families and residents to develop a personalized music playlist for each of our residents.

The personalized playlist’s music needs to have been a part of the resident’s life and based on personal preferences of the individual prior to the onset of their cognitive impairment. The music may be related to ethnic, spiritual or geographical background. It may also be associated with one’s previous musical interests or instruments that were played and will contain specific songs or artists that were associated with happy memories. Often it is music that the person enjoyed in their teens and early 20’s.

We appreciate our families working with us to develop a personalized playlist for each of our residents. Thank you!

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