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Music is part of daily life at St. Patrick’s Home – for its therapeutic benefits and the joy it brings to all 

Have you ever noticed how an old song can instantly trigger vivid memories of the past, the people and events of a specific moment in time? It’s amazing how music has the power to transport us, and connect us, to the milestones and the seasons of our lives. It bonds us to our past, present and each other.

For me (Meg Friedman), whenever I hear Colin James’ hit song Five Long Years, I flash back to the summer of 1990…driving to Nickel Beach with my housemates, windows down and our hair-blowing in the wind…an afternoon of sun, sand and no worries ahead of us.

Here at St. Patrick’s Home, it might be a jazz hit by Louis Armstrong & The Hot 5 that sparks a resident’s memory of listening to the radio on a Sunday afternoon in the family living room. Another might hear a tune by the Glenn Miller Band, and remember his dance at the church hall, while The Chordettes’ version of Mr. Sandman might carry a woman back to new motherhood, a wooden rocking chair and singing a fussy baby to sleep.

Whatever the song or medium, this deep neural connection to music seems to be universal. It’s a phenomenon that has fascinated scientists for years, especially those that research the links between music and health, and the influence of music on people living with dementia.

Through research, we’ve learned that music, in all forms, engages broad networks in our brains including the area responsible for autobiographical memories. Remarkably, this part of the brain continues to function fairly well, even as other areas are affected by dementia.

This is why music from the past is comforting and can contribute to the overall well-being of residents living in long-term care.

I go to the music I know, and listened to when I was younger. It soothes me, and it brings back memories.”  Renée, Resident, St. Patrick’s Home

Music has always been a part of the fabric of St. Patrick’s Home; however, as the benefits of music programming becomes more evident (it boosts engagement, fosters social interaction, and soothes the soul) – its importance and its use as a form of therapy have grown.

Today, visitors to St. Pat’s are likely to encounter any one of the following activities in progress:

  • A Music Circle of 30+ residents engaged in song and music-making;
  • A pianist, a folk singer, or a band playing to a large crowd in the Gathering Place or to a small group in one of the Resident House Areas;
  • A resident wearing headphones and listening to a personal playlist (as part of the Music & Memory™ program);
  • Hymns sung at mass, or a performance by St. Patrick’s Choir.

Each of these programs are cherished by our residents, families, volunteers and staff – and are funded almost exclusively by community donations.  We are so grateful to every donor who believes in the mission of St. Patrick’s Home, and gives so generously to enrich the lives of our residents. Thank you for keeping them close to your heart.