Music and Memory program aims to help residents with dementia

CRYSTAL FALLS — A medical care facility in Crystal Falls recently received a grant to start up a new program to help some of its residents.

“I don’t think anyone would disagree that music — from young to old — it affects people a certain way, and usually it’s in the positive,” said Stacy Donati, Diversional Therapy Director at the Iron County Medical Care Facility.

The facility is working to introduce the Music and Memory program to its residents thanks to a $5,500 Health Innovation Grant from the state and matching dollars from the facility itself. The Music and Memory program aims to enhance the lives of residents with dementia.

“People will actually be able to have individualized playlists, their own iPods that will be given to them throughout the day, and the research is going to be put into it to know what music really sparked them or meant something to them,” said Donati.

The facility will be setting up a dedicated computer system to house its media library while working on collecting data from residents and their families to build the personalized playlists. Organizers say modern technology helps make a project like this more feasible.

“It’s not the big search at the store anymore,” Donati added. “You just get online, and you can pretty much find anything you want, so the sky’s the limit when we’re assessing our residents. If that was a song that was at their wedding, or they sang to their child, or their child loved, we’ll be able to find it.”

The Music and Memory program will add another aspect to the facility’s already nationally–recognized Memory Unit.

“Everything that we’ve done, from the painting on the walls to the pictures to the floor, the furniture, everything is conducive to enhance the environment for the elderly with dementia,” said Facility Administrator Chester Pintarelli, “and the Music and Memory program is just going to be another aspect of enhancing that.”

The program is expected to be implemented within the next six months.