Posted Friday, November 21st, 2014

Morris View Healthcare Center in Morris Township has launched a Music & Memory program, which brings donated iPods loaded with personalized music selections to Morris View residents suffering from Alzheimer’s and a wide range of cognitive impairments.

Music & Memory is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of the residents using digital music technology.

“We all know the joy of hearing that song associated with special times in our lives,” said Karen Hogan, Recreation/Volunteer Coordinator at Morris View. “Even those with severe dementia can enjoy and recognize the music of their youth. Music taps into deep memories that are not lost to dementia.”

According to Hogan, the first Morris View residents to participate in the program were Alzheimer’s patients who often have been reluctant to participate in recreational activities. Recreation staff members interviewed families about the music their loved one preferred, created playlists specific to each resident and then downloaded the music onto donated iPods for each of the residents.

“This music program is a wonderful way of keeping family members involved with the care of their loved one,” said Freeholder Hank Lyon, freeholder liaison to Morris View. “When the residents are listening to their favorite music, it seems to recall pleasant memories for them and reduces stress and anxiety, not only for them but for their family members as well.”

Hogan said she has found those residents who listen to their music are more often cooperative, attentive and willing to accept care.

“They become more engaged with those around them and their families, are less agitated, and it allows for the possible reduction of mood and behavior altering drugs for many,” Hogan said.

Morris View Recreation staff members track the results and monitor any changes in behaviors to measure the program’s outcome, Hogan said.

“One resident who is generally non-communicative tapped his fingers on the table to the music and looked up saying ‘this is really good,’ ” Hogan said. “Another resident that could not sit still during a meal-time, now is relaxed and takes her time eating.”

Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, alternate liaison to Morris View, said the power of music should not be under estimated.

“Songs that we like tend to stay in our heads, seemingly forever,” DeFillippo said. “For Morris View residents with Alzheimer’s, listening to their favorite songs from the past appears to unlock their memories and trigger positive responses.”

Music sessions with the iPod are scheduled at least two to three times a week, or as an intervention to decrease agitation, anxiety, and depression. Hogan hopes to expand the program to other residents and eventually to the entire facility population, but is in need of additional iPods.

“We would deeply appreciate donations of new or gently used iPods or iTunes Cards so we can expand the Music & Memory program and bring joy and quality of life to other Morris View residents suffering from Dementia and other physical impairments,” Hogan said.

Hogan said there is a donation Drop-off Box in the lobby at Morris View Healthcare Center, 540 W. Hanover Ave. in Morris Township, where individuals can leave donations of new or gently used iPods or iTunes Cards.

Further information can be obtained by contacting Karen Hogan, Recreation/Volunteer Coordinator at Morris View, at 973-285-2865.