Musical Memories is a revolutionary health and wellness outreach initiative using music as a therapeutic tool in addressing the brain health of seniors suffering from memory loss and dementia.
Lake Forest Symphony musicians collaborate with Lake Forest Place Music Therapist, Rita Meland and Director of Health Care Activities, Mary Eichenfeld. We are also partnering with Dr. Hector Rasgado-Flores, Associate Professor of Physiology at Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University and Dr. John Calamari, Physiology Department Chair at Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University to conduct detailed research on how live music impacts the brain.
This program is brought to residents of the Senior Living Community of Lake Forest Place, including the Assisted Living Unit, Memory Care Unit, and Independent Living Unit. The Lake Forest Symphony musicians perform music selected by Rita Meland that will resonate with the patients. In order to actively engage the patients, we provide simple percussion instruments and encourage them to interact with the musicians. By keeping the patients active in the performance, their relationship to the music, the musicians, and each other grows.
Last year we held a short-term preliminary program with significant results. Changes in behavior were noted in even the most challenged individuals with memory loss and dementia. Behavioral markers observed included smiling, active participation in rhythmic and singing selections, reduced anxiety and agitation and verbal and non-verbal interaction with Symphony musicians.
Our goal is that through this program we can prove that interacting with live music keeps the brain healthy and that this information can be used to help future individuals suffering from memory loss. In expanding upon Meland's program, Dr. Rasgado-Flores and Dr. Calamari will be able to quantify how live music can heal the brain.
- Increased cognitive functioning and social interaction with fellow residents, caregivers and family members. Interaction and cognitive function will be measured by specific metrics set in place by Drs. Rasgado-Flores and Calamari, including observing many forms of behavioral markers.
During the trial program, interaction with musicians led to +4 and +5 ratings on a scale of -5 to +5 for even the most challenged individuals. We hope to replicate these results and determine how specific interactions impact individuals.
- Reduction in anxiety and stress, leading to positive changes in mood and emotional states. The evaluation of emotional states will be specific for each individual involved with the project.
- Increased memory recall, which contributes to reminiscence of satisfaction with life. By working with trained musicians on rhythmic exercises, the participants are engaged mentally and physically. The musical structures will promote rhythmic entrainment, thus decreasing agitated behaviors and lessening social isolation.
Using the arts to heal the brain is a potentially life-changing method to solve the Alzheimer's crisis.
The research from this program will directly impact American minorities.*
- Two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women.
African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer'sor other dementias as older whites and Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older whites.
The Pioneer Press covered last year's sessions. You can read more about the program from reporter Mark Lawton.
Lake Forest Symphony performs for dementia patients: "For a time their lives are in order"
- Rita Meland, Music Therapist
- Mary Eichenfeld, Director of Health Care Activities at Lake Forest Place
- Dr. Hector Rasgado-Flores, Rosalind Franklin University
- Dr. John Calamari, Rosalind Franklin University