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Music therapy benefits Alzheimer’s patients
by Nneka M. Okona
nokona@neighbornewspapers.com
April 03, 2013 11:11 AM | 4089 views | 1 1 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye<br>From left, Rita Goodson and Eva Layton play with musical instruments while trying on spring hats Wednesday afternoon at the Benton Village Retirement Community.
Staff / Katherine Frye
From left, Rita Goodson and Eva Layton play with musical instruments while trying on spring hats Wednesday afternoon at the Benton Village Retirement Community.
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For residents experiencing Alzheimer’s and dementia at Benton Village of Stockbridge Retirement Community, a method of coping has been introduced — music therapy.

Music therapy, offered in particular to those residents within the memory care community, has proven to be an essential way of dealing with the complexities that Alzheimer’s and dementia residents face.

Ginger Couch, regional director of community relations at Benton Village, said she has seen firsthand the benefits of music therapy in regards to some of the residents.

“If [a memory care community resident] is having a rough day, having soft music in the background can calm them down,” said Couch. “It can assist them with their rough day without necessarily having to medicate someone. We like to try different tactics before using medication means.”

The healing power of music, according to Couch, is in precisely the memories that hearing a certain song can conjure up for residents.

“If we put on 1940s big band music, for instance, it could bring back so many memories of a resident being younger,” said Couch. “Smells, tastes, sights and sounds for those who can’t remember what you said five minutes ago, but can remember the past, are powerful. Maybe they remember a sock hop or a soda fountain.”

Benton Village has no set music therapy courses or activities that take place on a consistent basis, but according to Couch, there are usually several music-related activities held at the community throughout the month.

In the past, for instance, there have been live musicians who have played at the memory care community.

“That is planned monthly,” she said. “We have groups that visit with us to do music. If someone wants to do more music and more things with us on a particular month, [it can be arranged].”

Benton Village of Stockbridge Retirement Community is at 201 Evergreen Terrace in Stockbridge.

Information: (770) 389-3889 or www.bentonhouse.com.
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Mimi Sinclair
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May 01, 2013
As a board-certified music therapist, I have to commend this community for seeking music-related activities for its residents. However, playing music in the background or inviting musical performers to visit is not music therapy. Music therapy is practiced by a professional who has competed specialized training and passed rigorous testing to become board certified. Music therapy is an allied health profession like speech or physical therapy. Having conversations with patients would not be called speech therapy, not would having actors in to do a performance. There are many board-certified professionals in the Atlanta area and I encourage you to contact them to find out what a difference it makes to have a professional implementing your music-based activities.
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