Manitoba

Program seeks donations to bring music to seniors' ears

A Winnipeg seniors’ residence is looking for donations of used MP3 players and headphones to help them launch a musical therapy program. The project will pair 30 seniors living with dementia or Alzheimer’s with 30 Grade 9 students from Henry G. Izatt Middle School.

Project Harmony aims to connect seniors with music to help battle dementia and Alzheimer's

Lindsay Girouard says seniors living with dementia or Alzheimer's can benefit from a personal music device. Riverwood Square has launched Project Harmony to connect seniors with students to build personalized playlists. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

A Winnipeg seniors' residence is looking for donations of used MP3 players and headphones to help them launch a musical therapy program. Riverwood Square is launching Project Harmony in January.

The project will pair 30 seniors living with dementia or Alzheimer's with 30 Grade 9 students from Henry G. Izatt Middle School.

The students will spend one-on-one time getting to know the seniors and interview them about their musical tastes and music related memories.

The students will then compile personalized playlists and present them on a listening device to their senior partner.

Lindsay Girouard says personal music devices that are simple to use are preferred. The device will be loaded with a personalized playlist designed by the students and presented to the participating residents at Riverwood Square. (Holly Caruk/CBC)
Lindsay Girouard, Director of Health and Wellness at Riverwood Square, said the project will target the residents' specific music memories.

"Music is also one of the last memories to go in [people with] dementia and Alzheimer's, so even though people may not have short term memories... music is one of those things that's rooted deep back in the mind, and when they hear one of those songs that they listened to… it just clicks and it's there," said Girouard.

The project aims to combat the effects of living with dementia as well as the isolation and anxiety that some residents face. Students will also become educated about dementia and learn ways to break down barriers with aging adults.

"Music is just one of those things that really spans every type of gap. It spans age, it spans gender, it spans generations. It's something that everyone can connect with," said Girouard.

Girouard says the idea for Project Harmony came from a documentary called 'Alive Inside', as well as numerous other research projects that demonstrate that music can have a positive impact on people living with dementia and memory loss.
Project Harmony is looking for donations of new or gently used mp3 players and headphones that fit over the ears, as opposed to ear buds. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

"The idea is that residents or older adults with some type dementia or Alzheimer's really can benefit from the use of a personalized music device." she said.

"Project Harmony aims to take that idea and take it one step further by combining the aspect of the intergenerational component," said Girouard.

The project will begin in January and continue to June. Girouard hopes it will become an ongoing program.

Project Harmony is looking for donations of new or gently used MP3 players and headphones, the kind that fit over the ears as opposed to ear buds . Music playing devices that have few buttons and are simple to use are preferred.

Donations can be dropped off at the front desk at Riverwood Square at 1778 Pembina Hwy.

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