iPods Used To Treat Alzheimer’s Patients In Nursing Home Pilot Scheme

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iPods are being used in a nursing home pilot program designed to help rekindle the memories of residents with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The program uses iPods, equipped with personalized playlists, to help improve the mood and interactions of residents. It is also replacing the need for medication in some cases.

“We … wanted to lessen the anti-psychotic or anti-anxiety medications,” said Brooke Smith, recreational therapy manager at one of the participating nursing homes. “We would love to see increased cognition. And instead of pain medication, we hope the music will divert their attention from pain.”

“It is amazing to see someone’s face light up when they hear their personalized music,” said recreation therapy director Kim Martinson. “We have seen a decrease in resident behaviors, less wandering, more social interaction and they are more upbeat and happy after listening to their music.”

Called the Wisconsin Music and Memory Initiative, the program provides each nursing home with 15 iPods, although some homes have been so buoyed by the scheme’s success that they are investing in additional devices.

“Staff have seen many benefits since day one,” Martinson continued.

So far the program has been rolled out to 100 nursing homes overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, although this number is likely to increase to 135 this spring. Almost 16,000 of the 29,000 residents of those nursing homes have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, according to DHS.

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About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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