Staff at an aged care home struggled with Evelyn, who demonstrated challenging behaviours that disturbed other residents, until a DSA consultant introduced music into her daily routine.
Evelyn was living with Alzheimer’s disease in an aged care home. Staff at the home found that they could only engage with her for short periods of time.
When she also started to show behaviours that disturbed other residents - such as anger and frustration to the point of screaming - staff contacted Dementia Support Australia (DSA) for support and advice, and advised DSA that her "extreme anxiety and agitation" were more apparent in the afternoons.
When a DSA consultant visited the care home to find out more about Evelyn, they observed that she didn’t want to be in her room. She would also walk around the building looking lost and asking if she could go home. The consultant followed up these observations with Evelyn’s daughter, who confirmed that she was not by nature a social person and was more at ease in her own company, curled up on the couch with a book.
Discussions with the staff and Evelyn’s family uncovered that she had been a nurse. She considered the aged care home her place of work saying, “My shift is finished, I am ready to go home”. She was also by nature not a social person and was more at ease in her own company, curled up on the couch with a book.
The DSA consultant explored a diverse range of tools and other resources to help with the situation. After further discussion with her daughter and the care home team, it was suggested to trial audiobooks with Evelyn, given her previous love of reading, to help her feel more settled.
It was soon discovered another approach would be needed, as Evelyn didn’t like wearing the headphones and quickly lost interest as a result. Working closely with the care home and the family, DSA then purchased a portable wireless device for Evelyn.
Her daughter created two playlists of her favourite songs: a morning playlist to get her started for the day, which also contained an element of fun, and an afternoon playlist of more relaxing music to help her unwind from the day’s activities before bed.
Evelyn’s daughter also printed and laminated a sign for Evelyn’s room to remind staff and visitors to activate the music device.
Evelyn is now more visibly relaxed and her face lights up when she is listening to the music. Her family use it almost every time they visit and change the playlist regularly. Staff have also reported that Evelyn’s anxiety has decreased significantly, and she rarely requests to go home.
By providing advice, strategies and support tools DSA has helped Evelyn, the staff and family feel more confident and Evelyn’s quality of life has improved significantly.
Dementia Support Australia is a free nationwide service offering 24 hour help, 365 days a year.
For access to our services, including telehealth or in-person consultations, contact us today.
To find out more about the power of music in dementia care, download our helpsheet.