Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation Celebrates Imagine Award Win

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The Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF) gratefully accepted the 2018 Award for Innovation from the Long Island Imagine Awards. LIAF was recognized for implementation of their Music & Memory program for participants in their Social Adult Day Program. LIAF attendees at the awards ceremony included from left: Thomas Killeen, Esq., Board of Directors’ Vice Chair; Lindsay Knudsen, LMSW, Social Worker and Director of the Moderate Stage Program; Jenna Carrocia, Director of Development; Christine Rice, Director of Special Events and Community Outreach; Tori Cohen, LMSW, Executive Director; and Edward McDermott, Music & Memory Coordinator.

The Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation (LIAF) is extremely proud and honored to have been selected winner of the Innovation Award in the Nonprofit Sector of the Long Island Imagine Awards for 2018. The announcement was made during the ceremony at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. LIAF is thrilled and very thankful for the recognition earned for their Music & Memory program. The award, sponsored by Empire National Bank, acknowledges the adoption of new platforms that lead to a significant increase in an organization’s ability to meet its goals.

LIAF became a Music & Memory Certified Care Organization in May 2017. The program is a research-based model that is in use by many elder care organizations nationwide and has shown to improve the quality of life for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Music & Memory provides participants with personalized music via digital technology, allowing them to reconnect with their surroundings through memories triggered by the music.

Staff at LIAF has seen first-hand, the remarkable effects Music & Memory has had for several participants in LIAF’s Social Adult Day Program. One of these participants is Tony, a Vietnam veteran who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about a decade ago. Edward McDermott, a program assistant at LIAF and the coordinator of the music program, uploaded about 40 songs to Tony’s iPod. Before he received his personal music setup, Tony slept most of the time; if awoken, he often became agitated. After donning his headphones, McDermott said of Tony, “He hums to any song and sometimes stands up and sways to the music.”

Walter, another participant in Music & Memory, has been coming to LIAF’s Social Adult Day Program since 2015, where he would often refuse to eat, alternately arguing with the staff or unengaged in activities. Since using his headphones, Knudsen, says, “he’s much more agreeable now,” with everyone acknowledging how much more he participates in the program these days. LIAF staff are not the only ones seeing the positive difference the music program is making. Families and caregivers note—and are thrilled with—the changes as well.

“At home, he’s way more pleasant,” said Walter’s daughter, Lada. “Before, he’d fight about eating, but the iPod is great. I put his headphones on him before he eats, and he settles right down to his dinner.” Walter’s daughter and the LIAF staff also see his sense of humor becoming more apparent, and certain tunes really resonate with Walter. Upon learning Walter is a native of Ukraine and worked as a theater director, McDermott sought out specific music, finding 10 Ukrainian songs, including operas, and folk dance, that Walter particularly responds favorably to.

Music is an integral component of LIAF’s programs. Aside from individualized playlists, LIAF provides the opportunity for all participants to benefit from live musical performances six days a week in the center’s large presentation room. Staff members report impressive changes, including singing and dancing, in participants during performances, especially those who do not otherwise interact much. When there are no scheduled live performances, a new, generously donated, player piano is used in conjunction with a SMART Board, which enables simultaneous playing and video performance.

“The Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation is so thrilled that we were chosen this year to win the Imagine Award for Innovation. To be recognized for all the hard work we do on a daily basis is exciting,” said Tori Cohen, LIAF’s Executive Director. “LIAF is always striving to be on the cutting edge of programs that can help individuals find a life worth living after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.”

She cited the philosophy for LIAF’s music program as, “focusing on who our participants are now—in the present moment, and who they are still capable of becoming—and how we can grow together.”

Cohen also expressed her gratitude to McDermott, saying, “The cutting-edge Music & Memory program at LIAF would not be possible without our coordinator, Eddie McDermott, as he is the innovation behind it.”

This year marks the sixth annual Imagine Awards. Founded by Ken Cerini, CPA, Managing Partner of Cerini & Associates, LLP in Bohemia, the Imagine Awards program was established to recognize and celebrate some of the best nonprofits on Long Island. According to Cerini, the awards ceremony shines “a light on the truly magical and selfless accomplishments that come from the more than 3,500 nonprofit agencies that call Long Island home.”

LIAF wishes to thank all who participated in the public voting during the past few weeks, and to extend congratulations to the other 2018 winners.

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