Saturday, April 5, 2014
Ralph Schwanbeck feared that his 87-year-old wife, Dorothy, might balk at donning headphones for the first time in her life, but her broad smile proved that the iPod was playing her songs.
Dorothy, who has Parkinson's disease, gently tapped her toes a few times while listening to some of her favorite tunes recently at Hillview Health Care Center in La Crosse. Hillview is one of 100 nursing homes statewide certified to participate in a Wisconsin Department of Health Services program to help residents with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Titled the Wisconsin Music and Memory Initiative, the program employs iPods with personalized playlists to rekindle residents' memories with familiar music, as well as lift their spirits and improve their interaction with family members, other residents and staffers. The program provides each nursing home with 15 iPods, but Hillview sees such promise that it also bought one and invites people to donate new or used iPods. Even though Hillview began the program just recently, results for Dorothy already were beginning to show.