ITA Collaborative Music Program Promotes Connection Among Dementia Residents and Families
The Institute for Therapy through the Arts Music for the Mind program is well underway after two years of planning, training, and music programming. Beginning with a year of planning in 2014, Music for the Mind was born on Symphony of Evanston’s Memory Care and Dementia Support floor from a collaboration between ITA and a group of professional musicians. Training and a three-tier music program was later implemented in January of 2016.
Music for the Mind, a program based on principles of music therapy that caters to Dementia patients and their families, officially began its programming in January of this year and ran until April. Programming was conducted in two, 12-week segments which included an interactive 45-minute music performance where families practiced connecting with their loved ones using music, instruments, and movement.
At the beginning of the program, each family attended a 30-minute debriefing group facilitated by a music therapist and Orff educator. Here, families received information about music therapy and Orff Schulwerk — a music education model incorporating body movement and multiple senses into learning. Families were then taught how these principles can be applied during their visits with residents.
Each week featured a performance by a quartet of professional musicians. Following each performance, participating families (consisting of the Symphony of Evanston residents plus their family members/caregivers) had the opportunity to spend time visiting with the musicians and program staff members in small groups. An average total of 10 families attended the weekly live music performances, and additional residents from Symphony of Evanston were also welcome to attend.
Over the past year, a total of 21 families have participated in Music for the Mind, each having received personal consultation on how music can be used to promote human interaction. Participating families practiced their new skills during performances and in their small groups. The families also participated assessments and surveys, providing feedback on their experiences. These instruments garnered data that measured how the program facilitated meaningful connections among Dementia patients, as well as supported a culture of music within the facility. ITA is thrilled to relay that the collected results have been overwhelmingly positive to date, with a most notable outcome including a support group initiated by family members in the spring of 2016.
Music for the Mind continues to grow, with its next endeavor on the horizon. ITA has already drawn up the blueprints for a research partnership with Northwestern University Associate Professor of Neurology, Dr. Borna Bonakdarpour. The partnership will begin research at Silverado’s Highland Park and Morton Grove campuses in January of 2018. This program was made possible thanks to the generous donations of the Anonymous Donor.
Institute for Therapy through the Arts wishes to thank Symphony of Evanston for hosting the Music for the Mind program and is grateful for the hard work of the staff and administration members. ITA is honored to be a part of a program that will continue to help families of people with Dementia connect and grow communally. As a program in a continual state of evolution, Music for the Mind is sure to bring even more updates hereafter.