Walk through the front doors at the Ivy at Ellington and you might hear Shirley and her husband, Ed, listening to country music, you might see Marlene swinging her hips to Elvis, or you might see a group of residents talking about their favorite songs. The Ivy at Ellington is alive with the sound of music.
“Music is so ingrained in our everyday life, whether it’s a parent singing a lullaby or what you’re hearing on the radio,” says Carrie Wilson, director of the Reflections Memory Care program at the Ivy at Ellington. “Music is also tied to really important events in your life, such as a wedding song. Music is so intertwined in everybody’s life, a lot of it becomes part of long-term memory and that is the memory that remains intact the longest for someone with dementia.”
Research shows that music can have many benefits for people with dementia. It can help reduce anxiety and depression, help maintain speech and language, and enhances quality of life.
A Powerful Connector
One way music helps people with dementia is that it provides a resource for enjoyment and entertainment, especially when shared with friends, family, and loved ones.
“We don’t miss any of the entertainment,” Shirley says. “For Christmas, they had a great big Christmas party for our families. A church group came with a big choir. There must have been 40 kids in the musical group. It was gorgeous.”
The Music and Memories program is another resident-favorite at the Ivy at Ellington. Wilson asks residents about their favorite artists and songs and will pull them up on YouTube and watch videos.
“It brings back so many wonderful memories,” Wilson says. “I love doing as a group because each person shares their version of it.”
A Tool to Enhance Quality of Life
Researchers have found a strong connection between the brain’s auditory cortex and its limbic system, where emotions are processed, so it’s no surprise that music lights up emotional memories, too.
“When a resident’s wedding song comes on, sometimes they go into another world,” Wilson says. “It’s that connection with the past — almost as if they were taken back there. It’s sweet and joyful. Emotion is the last thing to go with a person with dementia, and here you have something tied right to emotion.”
One way to help people with dementia tap into this part of their brain through personalized playlists. Not only does the music help them reconnect with memories triggered by the music, but it also can be effective in reducing agitation and frustration.
Other music-based programs at the Ivy at Ellington include Singing Seniors, Irving Entertains, and AJ Jansen Entertains, the Bio of Julie Andrews, Chubby Checker Day, Musical Beach Ball, Music Moments: Sinatra, and Manicures and Music.
If you think your loved one would benefit from the sound of music at the Ivy at Ellington, schedule a tour today.