(Chelsea Update would like to thank Shawn Personke for the information in this story.)
Thanks to a generous grant from the Chelsea Community Foundation and the enthusiasm and expertise of five local organizations, those facing life-limiting illnesses are finding renewed joy and pleasure in rediscovering the music that matters to them through Music and Memory.
Music and Memory is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that helps provide patients with individualized iPods loaded with personalized music playlists.
Silver Maples is partnering with the Chelsea Senior Center, Ascent Audiology, Chelsea Retirement Community, and the Chelsea District Library to bring the Music and Memory project to Chelsea.
“We are so thrilled to be bringing this to the Chelsea community,” said Shawn Personke, director of wellness and PR for Silver Maples of Chelsea in a press release. “It’s rather unique for a whole community be become certified by the Music and Memory organization and I think that’s one reason that the Chelsea Community Foundation is helping to fund the project.”
The project will kick off with two special programs.
First, Dr. Bruno Giordani, associate director of the U-M Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center, will present “Music, the Arts and Dementia,” on Monday, March 16, at 7 p.m., at the Chelsea District Library. Giordani will discuss the ways in which music and the arts affect the brain and improve the quality of life of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Second, on Sunday, March 22, at 1:30 p.m., at Silver Maples of Chelsea, join the Chelsea Music and Memory partners for a showing of “Alive Inside,” the Sundance Film Festival award winning movie that chronicles music can make a difference in the quality of life of seriously ill people and their families.
Both events are free and open to everyone.
Re-connecting elders with their favorite music can vastly improve the quality of life regardless of their cognitive or physical status. It is especially powerful for those with Alzheimer’s disease where it can restore, temporarily but repeatedly, the sense of self often lost when memory fails. While not a cure, this music connection may well be the best therapy currently available to millions suffering from dementia, depression, and loneliness.
Music can relieve boredom, empower choice, enable memory, and provide avenues for genuine communication with loved ones and caregivers.
Chelsea resident Gary Munce is helping the Senior Center launch the program, and it was his personal experience with the value of music that brought him to the program.
“My mother-one-law lives at Towsley Village Memory Care Center,” he said. “There is a jukebox in Bill’s Coffee Cup Café, and when a Gene Autry song came on, my mother-in-law started tapping her fingers and singing along. She knew every word. It made her smile. Life is better with a smile on your face. ”
Staff from the participating organizations have taken training classes to become certified providers.
Ascent Audiology and the Chelsea District Library are serving as ambassadors for the project and will help promote the project and educate the community.
Dr. Michelle Rankin, of Ascent Audiology, got involved in the project because she understands the importance of communication, especially for those who have lost the ability to connect with their world.
“Alzheimer and dementia are like a thief who steals that connection and I can’t imagine how frightening that would be from the perspective of the patient,” she said, adding, “I do know what it’s like from the perspective of a granddaughter and could I turn back the clock there is no doubt I would do whatever it took to see my grandma reconnect even if for only a moment in time.”
The Chelsea project will utilize staff from each of the certified organizations and a team of dedicated volunteers, family members, and caregivers who will work with those experiencing dementia and other debilitating diseases to determine which musical artists, songs and genres will be most meaningful and enjoyable for the person. After a personalized playlist is created and downloaded onto an iPod, amazing things begin to happen when someone connects with the music of their life.
Training sessions on the use of iTunes, iPods, and creating playlists will soon be offered at the Chelsea Senior Center and the Chelsea District Library. Those interested in volunteering – for either the tech aspect or working with seniors – can connect through Chelsea’s Volunteer Portal here.
New and gently used iPods and/or CDs, as well as financial support and volunteers, are needed to continue to build and maintain the program. For more information, contact any of the partnering organizations or [email protected]
For more information about the program, click here.