ElderCare Network’s Successful Aging program is underway with Musical Memories

“Come Let’s Stroll On a Country Road to Kansas City at Twilight Time, I Want To Hold Your Hand…… That’ll Be the Day! – You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog, so Get a Job and I’ll Do It My Way -with Music, Music, Music.”

Successful Aging is a program of specific activities and interventions that improve the quality of life for residents in ECN’s assisted living homes. This is a pilot program in Hodgdon Green in Damariscotta and Wiscasset Green that will be extended to all ECN’s homes this year. These simple lifestyle changes can improve the quality of life for older people at home as well as residents in ECN’s homes.

Thanks to a very generous gift last spring, ECN”S Medical Director, Allan S. Teel, M.D., has developed “Successful Aging,” a program that incorporates specific interventions in the areas of Exercise, Food and Musical Memory into daily life in ECN’s homes.

According to Dr. Teel, “Successful aging is one of the most basic human needs. Unless we die prematurely, we will all face that challenge. Better quality of life in advanced age should focus on purposeful living, social connections, access to good health care, community engagement, and maintaining personal interests in family, pets, exercise, healthy eating, music, and companionship.” These values are at the heart of ECN’s small, family-style, wellness-centered assisted living homes.

Recent studies have produced significant, credible evidence that changes in daily living in the areas of exercise, music and food can dramatically improve the quality of life for all of us as we age. Successful Aging will outline and implement simple changes in these three areas of daily life in all the homes over the next two years.

The pilot program got underway in the summer with Musical Memories in Hodgdon and Wiscasset Greens. Research has shown that the human brain is hard-wired to connect music with memory. This means that musical memories from early years are well-preserved in a specific part of the brain. As we age, these memories are retained, and accessing them can calm chaotic brain activity, enable people to focus on the present, reconnect to others, and generally promote a sense of well-being. Music therapy can also “retune” the brain to remember certain tasks, maintain motor skills, reduce anxiety and stress and increase attention, motivation, and focus.

ECN is providing individual MP3 players programmed with each resident’s own favorite music. Headphones and small speakers enable them to can enjoy ‘their’ music any time they wish. The initial playlists were developed by young ‘experts’ who accessed musical genres and found specific songs through the technology on their cell phones. This technology, which is easily accessible to the ‘younger generations,’ was brought into the lives of people who grew up in earlier generations, giving them access to music that is hard to find now.
This program will be extended to all ECN homes and is easily replicated by individuals in their own homes. For more information about the program and devices, contact Kathe Cheska, 563-8072.

ElderCare Network was founded in 1996 to improve the way we care for elders in Lincoln County. ECN now operates seven assisted living homes for 58 residents. The homes are located in seven Lincoln County villages, including the flagship home at 6 Hodgdon Street in Damariscotta. They focus on family-style, wellness-centered living for elders of all incomes. For information on the homes and on ECN’s Adult Day and Independence At Home programs for those still at home, call 563-2148.

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