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The connection between sound and memory is a strong one. Consider the feeling you receive from hearing your wedding song in the grocery store, or from singing a lullaby to an infant. Music is a powerful way to connect with our memories and emotions, and the benefits for Alzheimer’s, dementia, and memory loss patients are astonishing. In fact, researchers in Finland recently found that music not only stimulates the auditory areas of the brain, it also activates large-scale neural networks. Areas of the brain linked to creativity, paying attention, and making predictions can all be stimulated by listening to music. Music also releases dopamine, also known as the “feel good” hormone. Regularly activating these networks is crucial to patient care.

For Alzheimer’s patients and those suffering from dementia and memory loss, music therapy can invoke calm, help manage pain, recall memories, and promote social interaction. However, modern music players are often difficult for patients to use and can lead to frustration. Here we will explore two patient-friendly products that can help incorporate music therapy into your loved one’s life.

Musical Teddy Bear:

Combining the notable benefits of doll therapy with music therapy, this adorable yet functional teddy bear can hold up to 1,000 songs! Enjoy the preloaded playlist or create your own. After a one-time set up by a caregiver or family member, Blaney Bear is easily activated by its one external control -- just squeeze Blaney’s left paw to turn music on and off. Blaney also randomizes songs so that a different song plays each time it is turned on. Blaney is battery operated so be sure to give him occasional checkups when he starts to get quiet. Blaney can store songs in mp3, mp4a, wma, aac, and wav formats. For best results, load Blaney with songs significant to your loved one, then, take Blaney for a dance or sit back and listen to him sing.

Music player:

Eliminating the often difficult-to-use functionality of radios and music players is this simple music player. Users can easily flip a lid to activate the music, making it ideal for parkinson’s patients who may struggle with traditional-style knobs. There is also a large button for skipping a song. The music player is reminiscent of a 1960’s or 70’s style radio and is available in three colors, green, red, and walnut, invoking memories of old radiograms and other familiar devices. The player is strong and weighty, and the loudspeaker cloth is supported by a metal grille to ensure its durability and longevity.

The music player has excellent sound-quality, even at higher volumes. Volume control is only accessible to caretakers via a “press and hold” system hidden on the bottom of the device, making it ideal for individuals who tend to fiddle with electronics. Without the volume control lock, certain people are highly likely to increase the volume so that it is “too loud” or to decrease the volume so that it is so quiet it appears inoperable to the user. The music player is also electronically powered, eliminating the need to change batteries or switch the device “on” or “off.” Furthermore, dying batteries could make the music unintelligible, creating unnecessary additional confusion for those with memory loss or dementia. The simple music player comes preloaded with songs and can also be customized to accommodate any individual’s tastes.

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About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.

Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.