Sadly for patients and loved ones alike, Alzheimer’s sufferers may be trapped in the now, unable to recognize family members or summon memories.
But music has been known to bring Alzheimer’s patients out of their reverie, reminding them of people and experiences gone by.
“We believe it can help to revive memories,” says Rob Garrett, principal of Cypress Springs Residence, an Alzheimer’s facility in Tulsa, Okla. (A second residence is under construction in Oklahoma City.) “For some of the residents, music was a big part of their lives.”
That is why Garrett and his team insisted on a multiroom audio system for Cypress Springs, settling on a PC-based solution from CasaTunes. The facility has two CasaTunes servers, seven XLe expansion boxes that deliver music to as many as 12 rooms each, and eight 12-channel amps.
CasaTunes CEO David Krinker says the system serves about 100 listening areas, including bedrooms of the 66 residents.
The system pipes music from two sources: Internet radio and Companion Radio, a satellite-based service specially created for residents and staff of senior living facilities.
Residents don’t operate the audio system by themselves, Garrett explains: “We don’t want to give them things that will frustrate them.” Instead, CasaTunes is controlled from a centralized location via a PC interface.
There is one caregiver per seven or eight residents, according to Garrett, so the staff knows each patient intimately. “We know that Mr. Smith likes jazz. It may help to calm him down or go to sleep.”
Across the facility, music also can serve as a trigger to signify meal time, bed time, or other activities. “They can often relate better to music than they can with words,” says Krinker.
Research shows that recalling sounds evokes memories of youth, increases self esteem, and puts dementia patients in a better mood. “Some of them go down the hall, and they’re whistling or humming,” he says. “They’re happy.”
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Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.