Melodies strengthen memories at Liberty's Heritage Manor

story tease



Mary Guerrieri, a resident at the Heritage Manor Rehabilitation & Retirement Community, 517 Gypsy Lane, is one of the five residents participating in the new Music & Memory program.

The program involves senior citizens, especially those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, listening to music that jogs pleasant memories for an hour at a time.

“It brings back every memory, it’s wonderful,” said Guerrieri, who has dementia.

The Association of Jewish Aging Services awarded a $31,000 grant for a Music & Memory program to the Heritage Manor, which paid for equipment including headphones and iPod/MP3 players.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve residents’ lives. That’s our goal, to help people who are impaired or suffering,” said Cristal Vincent, CEO of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation’s Human Services Department.

Nursing home staff, senior care professionals and family caregivers were trained on how to create personalized playlists using iPod/MP3 players and related digital audio systems.

The playlists are customized to the residents’ tastes. For Guerrieri, that’s Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

“You think of things, memories. That’s what made it nice,” Guerrieri said.

Alexis Macie, her daughter, said she was thrilled when she heard about the program.

“She loved it,” she said. “I think this will lighten her mood. The Manor does a great job of giving the residents a better life.”

Heritage Manor threw a kick-off party for residents Friday to mark the start of the program. The participants had one trial with the program so far.

Vincent said the program will last at least three years.

“Music can stimulate specific areas of the brain and access memories,” she said.

According to the Music & Memory program website, “Music & Memory’s personalized music program is a therapeutic mechanism to address measurable improvement in mood, awareness and quality of life for people with dementia.”

The website says that a study on participants showed that there was an increased discontinuation of anti-psychotic medication because the program lessened agitation and negative moods.

Vincent said she hopes to see that happen at Heritage Manor.