Learn how Gregory Wing iPods ease depression, anxiety and improve cognitive function June 21

Posted:  Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - 7:45am

At the Gregory Wing at St. Andrews Village, residents who show signs of anxiety or depression receive iPods filled with personalized music selections as a first nursing intervention.

The iPods are not a substitute for medication, but in some cases they improve residents’ moods enough to make medication unnecessary when a resident is depressed or disruptive.

Residents who have rarely come out of their rooms or engaged with staff, have become much more social and begun to take part in activities after receiving iPods. Others, who were at times disruptive, have become calmer and easier for staff to work with after listening to music.

Gregory Wing Activities Program Manager Jerie Phinney and volunteer Holly Fulmer will offer a presentation on the Music and Memory program to the public at St. Andrews Village Tuesday June 21at 2 p.m.

Featured in the documentary movie “Alive Inside,” the Music and Memory program provides residents iPods filled with personalized music selections that bring them back to special times in their lives. According to the Music and Memory website (musicandmemory.org) the use of personalized play lists has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression.

Music stimulates parts of the brain that are associated with memories and can help withdrawn, even seemingly unaware residents reconnect with a sense of self, according to neurologists featured on the website.

One gentleman who rarely spoke or came out of his room at the Gregory Wing and who was hard to understand on the rare occasions when he did speak, received an iPod filled with songs by his favorite artist, Johnny Cash.

“For him it was truly therapy. He started coming out of his room. He started being much more communicative, joking, being easier to understand,” said Phinney.

Not long after he received his iPod, the man changed his clothes, put on a cowboy hat and swaggered down the hallway, joking with CNAs. When Phinney found him, he was looking out the window at the then under-construction Zimmerli Pavilion. The resident had operated heavy equipment before he retired and he was clearly enjoying watching the work, said Phinney.

About 20 residents have received iPods with personalized music selections since the program began.

Phinney hopes to eventually equip every resident who wants one with an iPod, but to expand the program, she and Fulmer need more iPods (gently used iPods are fine), iTunes music cards and most importantly, more volunteers.

Fulmer has been instrumental in creating the program with Phinney. She is also active in bringing pet therapy to the Gregory Wing every week. Phinney said the role of volunteers in the Music and Memory program is absolutely vital.

“It just cannot happen without volunteers,” Phinney said.

Anyone interested in volunteering at St. Andrews Village is encouraged to call 633-1848 if they have previously volunteered at LincolnHealth or call the LincolnHealth Volunteer office at 563-4508.