by Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
The Music and Memory program is a new concept developed by US Social Worker Dan Cohen to help victims of dementia in Australia. Dementia refers to memory loss and is not a specific disease, as it covers a wide range of symptoms.
To help patients suffering from dementia, Cohen developed his music program. The program involves the creation of personalised music playlists on iPods, which are then played to those suffering with dementia, other chronic cognitive and physical impairments.
During the testing period of this program, it worked positively on many of these patients with some responding by singing and moving.
CEO of Arts Health Institute, Dr. Maggie Haetsch, said the program has awakened a part of those listening to music, thus seeing them responding to it.
Positive feedback noted from running the program paves the way for the music program to expand, and Dr. Haertsch hopes it will also be adopted by facilities nationwide.
Dr. Haertsch says finding the right type of music is very important to the success of the program, as responses will vary depending on the choice of music provided to the patients.
Training is underway via regular webinars and occasional site visits to help staff, carers and volunteers to identify and choose the right type of music before providing the music to the patients.
This gives time for them to observe, understand the kind of response given, and create and refine the playlist.
Although the concept is not new, it is new to Australia and was made possible via the Arts Health Institute, a non-profit organistion that brings arts programs to healthcare.