South Florida Hospital News
Sunday November 18, 2018

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July 2016 - Volume 13 - Issue 1



Innovative and Personalized Music & Memory Program Yields Multiple Gains for Skilled Nursing Residents with Cognitive Challenges

They’re singing its praises. A new one-of-a-kind music program at Plaza Health Network’s South Pointe Plaza on Miami Beach goes way beyond entertaining residents and takes patient programming to a whole new level. ‘Music & Memory’ offers benefits that can improve awareness, mobility, socialization and temperament for individual residents with dementia and other memory conditions. Importantly, neuroscience research backs the multiple gains witnessed by facility administrators, staff and patient families.

“The program is grounded in extensive neuroscience research about how our brains respond to music,” says Dan Cohen, MSW who developed Music & Memory based on his experiences as a social worker in the Long Island area of New York. Cohen says, “This personalized music system [which incorporates the music of the person’s own life] is profoundly linked to emotions. Those memories are stored deep in the brain. While Alzheimer’s disease damages the ability to recall facts and details, it does not destroy the lasting connections between a favorite song and special music memories from important events.”
Appreciating How Music Makes a Difference
First embraced and launched by Rachel Schuster, MPA, NHA, the Administrator at South Pointe Plaza, the overwhelming success is driving a rollout of this innovative program to other award winning rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities that comprise Plaza Health Network. This month, patients living with Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders at Jackson Plaza in Miami’s Health District will also gain access to new iPods for participating in Music & Memory. South Pointe Plaza and Jackson Plaza are both 5 Star Rated facilities from CMS, and have both received Bronze Awards from the American Health Care Association.
The gains in patient awareness and interaction have already been significant enough at South Pointe Plaza, in fact, to justify the cost of expanding the initiative to help patients at other Plaza Health Network facilities as well in the near future. The program, funded by the Plaza Health Network Foundation, provides a service to patients and residents who would not otherwise be able to receive it. 
“The Plaza Health Network Foundation provides funds that allow the development of patient focused programs and services that go above and beyond the basics covered by Medicare and Medicaid. The Music & Memory program impacts patients’ quality of life and sets the Network apart as an innovative leader in care and services for our elderly,” says Ilene Zweig, Executive Director of the Plaza Health Network Foundation. “We are honored and proud to fund this unique program that will help so many patients and their families.”
Orchestrating Improved Quality of Life
As the Music & Memory program grows to help more patients with cognitive challenges, ongoing research will continue to monitor and record the multiple benefits already witnessed by family and professional staff at South Pointe Plaza. Research has demonstrated that Music & Memory helps many silent or non-communicative residents talk and become more social, and allows sad or depressed patients to become happier and less agitated.
Plaza Health Network President & CEO, Elaine Bloom, Chief Clinical Officer, Ann-Lynn Denker, Ph.D., ARNP, and Ilene Zweig were introduced to the Music & Memory initiative at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Guardianship Program of Miami-Dade when Dan Cohen made a presentation.
“It is a great pleasure to observe the residents smiling while listening to their personalized playlists. They are more interactive with each other, more energetic and happier all around!” says Schuster. “Music & Memory is enhancing their quality of life which, at the end of the day, is one of our primary objectives.”

For more information about the Music & Memory Program at Plaza Health Network, contact Ilene Zweig, Executive Director, Plaza Health Network Foundation, at (305) 917-0405 or

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