PHOTO left to right: Philip Madore with daughter Susan Dionne, Arlene Pinette with daughter Brenda Pelletier, Patricia Berube, TD Bank, Catherine St. Pierre, Music Coordinator, Leonard Dube & sister Bernadette Dube, Charlene Taggett, Activities Coordinator
Fort Kent ~ For nearly a year now, Forest Hill residents have experienced a life changing program in their environment, in the form of music therapy. Through grant money and local donations, thirteen iPods and music for playlists have been purchased. A Music Certified facility, Forest Hill initially kicked off the program with ten residents who fully participate in the formal music therapy program.
According to Music and Memory, a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirm through digital music technology, “Persons with dementia, Parkinson’s and other diseases that damage brain chemistry are able to reconnect to the world and gain improved quality of life from listening to personal music favorites.” Information that may be obtained from the Program’s website at musicandmemory.org also states that favorite music or songs associated with important personal events can trigger memory of lyrics and the experience connected to the music. Beloved music often calms chaotic brain activity and enables the listener to focus on the present moment and regain a connection to others.
Catherine St. Pierre, Forest Hill’s Music Coordinator explained that when a person experiences their favorite music, memories are evoked that perhaps would not be accessed any other way. She said, “People who aren’t typically verbal begin telling stories of their younger years in great detail after having listened to their personalized music playlists.” She also said that each time a person listens to music whether it is to relax or boost energy levels, the therapeutic nature of music nurtures the whole person on all levels of mind, body and spirit.
Most recently, Forest Hill residents received a gift from the Fort Kent TD Bank. Patricia Berube, Bank Teller at TD Bank for the past nine years, began volunteering on her own by bringing newspapers and cookies to residents at Forest Hill and chatting with residents. In doing so, she learned about the Music Therapy Program and saw firsthand the positive impact, and sometimes transformational changes, the music had on the residents. She was so moved by the benefits she observed that she decided to speak with a supervisor at her place of employment. She got the idea to ask for iTunes gift cards to support the program and asked about the possibility of making a donation for purchasing iTunes gift cards. She said, “Home office supports and encourages employee volunteerism at the local community level and they supported this request without any hesitation.” More partnerships are being sought within the community to acquire funds and supplies so that more residents may participate in the program to enhance their quality of life.
Anyone interested in learning ways in which to support the program are urged to contact Catherine St. Pierre at firstname.lastname@example.org. St. Pierre will be the guest speaker at the NMMC Guild business meeting on March 15 and she is available for public speaking engagements by appointment. Individuals may support the program by donating equipment such as new or gently used iPods, headphones, iTunes gift cards or music compact discs, preferably of the genre of classic and country, as well as music relating to the forties, fifties, sixties and seventies.
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