Ep. 141: Vera: Transforming dementia care with music; with Music Health’s Stephen Hunt

Transforming Dementia Care With Music

Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

Music Health’s new music app, Vera, utilizes individualized playlists to stimulate activity in different parts of the brain of those with dementia. This application of music has been shown to enhance lucidity, physical movement, mood, quality of life, and communication; as well as reduce depression, anxiety, stress, agitation, confusion, and pain. We discuss the science behind these developments, the corresponding benefits for caregivers… and how the app got its name!

Guest

Joining me today from Sydney, Australia, is Stephen Hunt, Co-Founder and COO of Music Health. Steve is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience leading and operating businesses in the media, technology and music industries.

Stephen Hunt

Notes

We discuss:

  • When I read Music Health’s mission statement on its website, I lit up about 5 times while reading the two short sentences. Here’s the mission statement: “We are building the future of digital music wellness by creating digital music experiences that empower people to take control of their own mental and physical wellbeing with ease. Music Health is a young and fast-growing company with a blue-sky opportunity to make a difference.” [emphasis is mine]
  • Stephen’s personal connection to dementia and music’s ability to enhance life for people touched by dementia.
  • The science of music’s impact on people living with dementia is well established. Stephen shares a couple of his favorite studies, as well as the documentary that first caught his attention about this topic.
  • The app, Vera, is available for Apple + Android. Stephen explains how it works, and its ease of use.
  • Universal Music Group is licensing its entire catalog for the app.
  • Music in the app is presented in the form of three different playlists, specifically designed for three purposes: 1) relax; 2) energize; and 3) reminisce.
  • Benefits can include:
    • Enhanced brain plasticity, mood, lucidity, physical movement, quality of life, and communication.
    • Reduced depression, anxiety, stress, agitation, confusion, perception of pain, reliance on medication, hospitalizations.
    • Ease of use, affordable, non-invasive, non-pharmacological.
  • Stephen envisions a model of care that utilizes this personalized music in each ADL (activity of daily living) in order to maximize lucidity and the resulting benefits of each activity.
  • While the focus of Vera is on the one with dementia, its benefits extend indirectly to caregivers and loved ones as well. Stephen shares an especially memorable story of a daughter who was given extra time with her father due to their use of Vera.
  • Stephen explains the many reasons that led to the app’s name!

Connect/Other Resources

Other episodes we mentioned or that you may enjoy:

In-Episode Promo

Arts for the Health of It podcast

Coda

Steve shares a song he wrote and recorded when two close friends were breaking up.  It’s about losing control of yourself when you’re so overpowered by strong emotions.

Closing Words

And that is a little bit of “Control.” Thank you so much to Stephen for sharing this song he wrote, and for joining us today, and for all he is doing to enhance lives with music! After our conversation, I was on Vera’s website and realized that you can gift Vera to someone; just go to https://www.veramusic.com/gift to learn more about giving the gift of an annual membership to someone caring for a loved one with dementia.

If you know of someone who would enjoy this episode, please share it with them! It’s easy to do right in your podcast listening app – each app is a little different. In Apple podcasts, just tap the three dots and then Share Episode. That will give you options to share by text, email, social media, and more. If you use another podcast app, just google “share podcast episode on …” for specific instructions. And of course you can always share the show notes webpage as well. A link to today’s show notes is in the episode details right in your podcast app. As always, you can connect with me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Until next time, may your life be enhanced with music.

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