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Music benefits Kapiti elders
Kapiti Cottage attendee John Bogisch models the day programme's new headphones.
Kapiti Cottage attendee John Bogisch models the day programme’s new headphones.

Music is making a big impact at Enliven’s Kapiti Day Programme in Paraparaumu.

Music has long been known as an outlet for emotions; however research is now suggesting that it also has a significant impact on a person’s overall health and wellbeing.

Recently the programme, designed for older people with significant health conditions, memory loss and dementia, began offering the use of MP4 players with personalised playlists as a therapy for easing anxiety – and the results are better than they ever imagined.

Diversional therapist Robyn Lindsay says the music, tailored to the individuals taste, is helping to ease anxiety, stress and restlessness for people with dementia and other serious medical conditions.

“I’ve worked with people with dementia for years and it’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s working better than we expected,” Robyn explains.

“We’re seeing less anxiety, people are more responsive, they’re more engaged and enjoying the memories the music triggers. We’re seeing much better communication from those with dementia during and after using the music players.”

She gives an example of one woman who doesn’t seem to have a “care in the world” when listening to her playlist.

“Her eyes sparkle, she is lively, animated and gives us a commentary of what she is hearing, in-between singing along,” says Robyn.

“What’s so amazing about this is that she’s usually quite disconnected from the others, but after she’s finished listening she carries on talking about the music and her memories associated with it, so it’s also provoking spontaneous reminiscence and sparking conversation.”

But Robyn says the therapy is about much more than putting on a pair of headphones.

“A qualified diversional therapist sits with the person while they’re listening to encourage them to engage with the music. It’s these conversations that trigger memories, improve communication, and to connect with those around them.”

Enliven staff are also working with families to teach them how they can use music therapy at home.

Enliven’s Kapiti Day Programme, located at 14 Tongariro Street in Paraparaumu, is a unique respite programme driven by highly skilled and qualified diversional therapists. To find out more, call 04 298 8060 or click here.

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