Last summer, our community was chosen for a pilot study on the impact of music on depression. While the project only lasted six weeks, the results will impact our campus for years to come.
“I was really interested in music therapy with geriatric clients,” said Breanna Gilger, ESU nursing and honors college student. “Two semesters ago I had the opportunity to apply for a summer research program, and I did a pilot study at Emporia Presbyterian Manor that was a lot of fun! We had iPods and different play lists so the residents in the experimental group listened to music for 30 minutes and the other group of residents didn’t. We measured depression scores. I got to know the residents, and everyone really liked it. When my six-week project ended, everyone was sad they wouldn’t have the music anymore.”
Trying to find a way for the music to play on, Breanna met with Life Enrichment Coordinator, Jen Moran, to come up with a solution.
“I had to have a community engagement project to graduate as a student in the honors college, so we talked about what I was wanting to do, which was to make some program so residents could have access to music whenever they wanted,” said Breanna.
In a short amount of time, two anonymous donors provided Amazon Echo devices and Breanna’s connection with the honor college at ESU gained her access to refurbished iPods from ESU’s IT department. A few other iPod and monetary donations have been made as well.
“It’s like a library, residents can check out an iPod with music and listen awhile,” said Breanna.
And the Amazon Echo devices are finding all types of uses around the community, too.
“We know that music is important throughout all stages of life and have seen first-hand how music can rekindle memories. We’ve been using the Echos in our healthcare and memory care dining rooms. We play music during meals and periodically throughout the day. It’s a useful tool to add an extra element of fun to activities, and it can help to add a calmer mood when residents are resting,” said Jen Moran, life enrichment coordinator.
The staff have also found the Echo devices to be conducive to work.
“After the residents have left the dining room, I’ve noticed that some of the staff play their own favorite music while they clean the space and prepare it for the next meal. I feel like this could easily lead to a more content and productive staff. To me, the Amazon Echos have been a wonderful addition to our community and I’m very, very grateful to our donors, and to Breanna Gilger, whose school project allowed us to have these experiences,” said Jen.
Music is simply in her blood, and Breanna hopes others will feel moved to share a similar act of compassion in their community.
“Music has always been a big part of my life. I’ve played piano for almost 12 years and I love being able to share that with other people. It’s a lot easier to do something like this than people realize. And the benefit it has is so monumental.”
PHOTO: Resident Lyla Jean McCoy and Executive Director Susan Siepelmeier enjoy listening to Loretta Lynn's “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” on the Amazon Echo. Lyla Jean’s favorite music is country western.