He's tuned in to resident choice
Will music improve MDS 3.0 scores?
Two weeks later, iPod and laptop in hand, he visited a nursing home in Long Island, NY, and proposed making personalized play lists for residents. He was curious to see if listening to familiar music had a soothing effect on nursing home residents.
It did. Cohen then quickly launched a pilot program with the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, which allowed him to study using personalized playlists as a form of music therapy for nursing home residents.
When working with a new resident, Cohen surveys her or his music preference based on a list of genres and suggestions. The goal is finding a person's 100 most favorite songs. If a resident is too ill to speak, Cohen asks family and friends what the person used to listen to when he or she was well.
Once Cohen fine tunes a resident's playlist, he says he can usually see behavior improvements right away. For instance, he's seen Alzheimer's patients who haven't spoken in months stand up and wave their arms in the air in time with the music. Others have started interacting with other residents and staff more frequently.
“If residents are no longer agitated, then the quality of caring improves,” Cohen says. “It's great for staff morale, the people they care for are less anxious and less depressed. It's a very simple approach that has potentially very high impact.”
Cohen says he first based his iPod idea on preferences he'd have if he were ever a long-term care resident.
“If I'm ever in the nursing home, I want to have all my music and movies with me. I would be happy,” he notes.