Image caption: German Centre resident Nathanelle McNeil engages in music and movement exercises.
We surpassed our Challenge Match for Music Therapy goal with a $20,000 grant from the James and Sarah Dyer Charitable Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, bringing the total raised to more than $77,000.
The gifts were in response to a 1:1 challenge match that the German Ladies Aid Society of Boston—the founders of Deutsches Altenheim—issued back in May, designating up to $30,000 to match, dollar for dollar, any gift to support the Altenheim’s music therapy program. The community swiftly answered the call with 103 donors (and counting) contributing.
“This year, German Ladies Aid Society members chose to issue a challenge match for donations to the Altenheim’s music therapy program because the pandemic has had such isolating effects on seniors in our community,” says Society President Roswitha Stehling. “Music therapy will help the Altenheim’s frontline care team combat the mental and physical declines that this isolation has caused in some of our residents,” she continues.
Additional lead support includes a $5,000 gift from the Boston Evening Clinic Foundation and a $10,000 gift from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, but according to Michael Jugenheimer, the Deutsches Altenheim Foundation’s executive director of development, it is the collective support that helped the Altenheim hit such a high note,. “We are so grateful for everyone who stepped up to make a gift in support of music therapy,” says Jugenheimer. “I am humbled just thinking about the hours of music therapy this collective support will fund,” he says.
The funds will enhance the Altenheim’s music therapy program through one-on-one and group therapy sessions for residents and clients, with an emphasis on residents living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Multiple studies show that music has profound psychological and physiological benefits for seniors, especially those living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Music therapy elevates moods, reduces anxiety, increases mobility, and even diminishes pain.
“Music is a powerful catalyst for reminiscence,” says Director of Resident Life Carol Kelly. “We all love music, especially songs that bring back memories—like the song we walked down the aisle to or had our first slow dance at the prom to,” she continues. According to Kelly, for individuals living with dementia, music can tap into deep recesses of their memories, helping them reconnect with a sense of self otherwise difficult to achieve day-to-day.