In Columbus, Ohio music therapy is sweeping nursing homes. A patient typically known to be a bit unresponsive started to stir more after getting the chance to listen to some refreshing tunes. The director of activities for this particular facility placed headphones on Ms. Barbara Rashid and in a short time the patient was singing and tapping her hands and feet. Ms. Rashid is 75 and suffers from dementia.

Ohio has joined the top ranks of states participating in the Music & Memory movement. A documentary that highlights how music can be used for nursing home therapy called Alive Inside was part of the inspiration for greater use of music therapy. In Ohio, 300 of their nursing homes are now using music therapy. Over the next few year, officials for the movement hope to bring the remaining 670 on board.

The characteristics of dementia and alzheimer’s include having confusing connections to the people and memories who are most key in their lives. The role of music in this case can help recreate and awaken the memories while also connecting the individual back into the world. Playlists of songs that have a personal connection to the patients are most effective. Ms. Rashid enjoys Gladys Knight, the Archies, and Bill Haley & His Comets.

Dr. Douglas Scharre from Ohio State University shares that music is connected with long term memory. It has the ability to touch individuals who are difficult to reach because it provides them with a sort of soundtrack for their lives. It helps people remember key moments like their prom or wedding where specific songs were played. As a result, the triggered memories due to the music can also be joyful and positively refreshing. States besides Ohio have also seen great results where patients known to be silent were suddenly happy and sociable. Nursing homes hope to one day reduce the amount of medication administered by further implementing the Music and Memory program.

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