Heritage Park hopes to ‘awaken’ Alzheimer’s patients with music

| January 31, 2015

FORT WAYNE—Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients at Heritage Park once unable to communicate verbally are now smiling, singing and clapping.

Even in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, while listening to their favorite music while in bed, these residents pat their legs or bob their heads to the familiar rhythms coming through their headsets.

They are all part of Heritage Park’s Music and Memory program, which uses music to calm and comfort people with dementia. In a much celebrated case used to promote the program, a resident was “awakened” from a non communicative state while listening to the music. Heritage Park is the only long-term care facility in Northeast Indiana certified for this program.

The Music and Memory program is part of a growing national movement that utilizes music to treat people with memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Heritage Park also uses music instead of drugs or lower dosages in many cases to help calm patients with anxiety or behavioral problems. Music has been proven to reduce agitation and resistance to care, providing a calmer social environment. It also helps with depression and chronic pain.

The program was developed by former social worker Dan Cohen who understood that while Alzheimer’s disease may damage and even destroy memory, the disease does not destroy the connection between a song and a memory of an important life event.

The program is not a cure, said Heritage Park Memory Care Facilitator Rhonda Owens, who was certified to provide the program in 2013.

“It’s a momentary intervention,” she said, explaining that about 25 Heritage Park residents have participated in Music and Memory.

This person-centered approach to care has wide implications.  A recent study has shown that the number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is expected to nearly triple from 5.5 million today to 13.8 million by 2050. This growth will place an enormous burden on society, straining medical systems and challenging families.

This stressful and emotionally wrenching disease also overwhelms family members, turning golden years to rust.  The healthcare cost ramifications are enormous.

Please also view this clip at the end of this article learn more.

Heritage Park is one of nine Metro Fort Wayne Senior Health and Memory Care facilities operated by American Senior Communities. The community offers a variety of health services and multiple levels of care for people with memory illness in its Auguste’s Cottage Memory Care Center.

Other healthcare services include Moving Forward Rehabilitation, Hospice, Respite, Skilled and Long-Term Care. The community also provides assisted and independent living and garden homes.

For more information about Heritage Park, located at 2001 Hobson Road, please call (260) 484-9557, or visit the website at www.ASCSeniorCare.com/hp.

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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