Music therapist Sierra Gladu uses iPods to bring joy and calm to residents at Ridgeview Lodge

iPods bring calm to LTC

A music therapist at Kamloops’ Ridgeview Lodge is using iPods to help alleviate anxiety, saying the program has had a definite positive effect on the senior residents in their care.

Sierra Gladu said she studied music therapy in Vancouver, where she had first heard of the idea.

“It came back to me, because our recreation coordinator gave me three iPod shuffles she had that had pre-loaded music onto them. I tweaked them a little bit, and put them to work,” Gladu said.

She said she started with some residents who were showing behaviours related to anxiety and confusion.

“I would sit down with them for half an hour and put the headphones and the iPods on them and record the outcomes," Gladu said.

"And the outcomes were amazing.”

Gladu said she noticed a “complete decrease” in anxious behaviours, and a sense of calm.

This success led her to think about growing the program.

“Everyone should be able to have their own iPod with music that is specifically catered to them,” Gladu said.

“Music is able to reduce the amount of stress hormones that the body is releasing, which naturally calms them down. And even if it's not an intense situation, music releases dopamine in the brain, and it can bring back so many old memories.”

A few weeks ago, Gladu put out a call on social media to ask for old iPods, headphones and chargers.

She said she was crossing her fingers for two, but she was able to collect between 15 and 20 iPods.

Someone even offered to help her download music, as it can be a time-consuming process.

“The support has been overwhelming,” she said, adding she would love to expand the program after seeing how successful it’s been at helping residents.

Gladu said she is still collecting older iPods, chargers and headphones, especially headphones that sit on top of the ears.

Gladu said she will talk to family members or friends to find out what kind of music each resident prefers. Not only has this helped her tailor each iPod to a resident, but it also helps to create a connection between family during a time when making connections can be challenging.

“During COVID, they haven't been able to visit with their mom or their dad or their grandma or grandpa,” she said.

“Talking with someone who's on the inside, especially with someone who is doing a project to try and increase their quality of life and make everyday just a little bit better for them, it’s a way of connecting them to their family members.”

Gladu suggested families use music as a way to connect with their loved ones in long term care, especially during the pandemic.

“It's hard to connect with your loved one if you can't hug them, or kiss them or hold their hands. And I would love to suggest bringing music, playing music on your phone for your loved one when you're visiting so that you can sing together,” she said.

“Music has such a strong connection with memories, a family member can really connect with their loved one through music, even if there's no social interaction.”

According to Gladu, music holds a strong connection to memories that is not forgotten.

“They may not be able to talk to you anymore. They may not be able to get up and dance anymore, or they might not remember who you are anymore, but they will always remember music,” she said.

“If you can, share that with them. It's an excellent way to connect with them still.”

Anyone interested in donating iPods, headphones or charging cables for this program can bring these items to the front doors of Ridgeview Lodge.

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