Mu­sic makes pa­tients feel Right at Home

The Covington News - - HEALTH - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­news.com

Why should the mu­sic ever stop?

One lo­cal, mar­ried cou­ple thinks it shouldn’t have to and that mu­sic can pro­vide a rem­edy some pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions can­not. That’s why Mark Ross and Dr. Ni­cole Ross, who run the Right at Home of Cov­ing­ton in- home care and as­sis­tance provider, launched the Mu­sic and Mem­ory pro­gram.

The Rosses part­nered with New­ton Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy ( NCCA) to bring the na­tion­ally es­tab­lished non­profit to Mer­ry­vale As­sisted Liv­ing for a pilot trial with five pa­tients, demon­strat­ing the pos­i­tive ef­fects of mu­sic on the elderly with de­men­tia.

Cov­ing­ton’s Mu­sic and Mem­ory pro­gram started in June to pro­vide iPods to res­i­dents with per­son­al­ized mu­sic that they or their fam­ily mem- bers choose.

Dr. Ross said she used the un­hap­pi­ness in those with de­men­tia at Mer­ry­vale. Some would pace the floor, ag­i­tated and un­able to rest. Some would sit in bed all day with their heads and chins against their chest. Some would be dis­rup­tive to the staff and other pa­tients.

“I found that we were pre­scrib­ing more med­i­ca­tions to keep them calm and keep them from be­ing so ag­i­tated and con­fused,” Dr. Ross said. “They ap­peared very se­dated and lacked en­ergy ( from the medicine). They didn’t ap­pear very happy to me de­spite my ef­forts.”

Many would be prone to fall­ing more of­ten be­cause of the high dosages of their anti- psy­chotics, she said.

Then they were pre­scribed head­phones and an iPod.

“It seems to have a ma­jor ef­fect of calm­ing them, im­prov-- ing their en­vi­ron­ment that they live in. It al­lows them to take the stress off their care­givers. It re­quires less med­i­ca­tion when we give them per­son­al­ized mu­sic,” Dr. Ross said.

They calmed down to fo­cus on the mu­sic that brought mem­o­ries of their child­hood. They lifted their heads and looked around at their sur­round­ings. They came back to life.

“We saw an im­me­di­ate recog­ni­tion that they en­joyed what they were hear­ing,” said Gena McLen­don, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor at Mer­ry­vale.

McLen­don said she is thrilled Mer­ry­vale was cho­sen as the pilot as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­ity for Dr. Ross’s pro­gram.

“Mu­sic is such a pow­er­ful in­flu­ence that we were just de­lighted our res­i­dents are go­ing to have the ben­e­fits of this,” McLen­don said. “Ul­ti­mately, the res­i­dents are the ones who are go­ing to ben­e­fit.”

While Right at Home staff worked with res­i­dents and Mer­ry­vale staff over the summer to launch the Mu­sic and Mem­ory pro­gram, NCCA stu­dents will take over work with res­i­dents, Dr. Ross said. Health­care and au­dio­vi­sual stu­dents will work to bridge the gap be­tween se­niors and young adults who are of­ten un­aware of the ef­fects of de­men­tia, she said. They will visit the res­i­dents and help mon­i­tor their progress as well as in­putting the songs onto iPods.

“The goal is to have the stu­dents help the se­niors and the se­niors to help the stu­dents,” Dr. Ross said. “To have the com­mu­nity work­ing to­gether.”

Some fa­vorites have been Broad­way, folk mu­sic, South­ern gospel and Mo­town.

“I don’t think there’s any other home­care com­pany that’s do­ing what we’re do­ing,” Mark Ross said. “Med­i­ca­tions can work, but mu­sic just talks to peo­ple.”

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