Three things to know about assisted living

Looking for an assisted living community to care for an aging loved one can be an overwhelming process. It’s important to understand what it means to live in an assisted living community.

Over the past 30 years, senior care professions and senior living designers have worked to make these communities more than just a nursing home or retirement home.

Here are 3 things to know about assisted living:

1. Assisted living provides different levels of care.

Senior facilities that call themselves assisted living communities offer different levels of care. Some provide light care through independent senior living facilities where residents live in private apartments.

Other communities with a higher degree of licensing are able to provide more care, including skilled nursing, memory support and short-term rehab.

Fully certified through the Illinois Supportive Living Program, Heritage Woods of Minooka is designed to serve adults 65 and older of all incomes that may need some help to maintain their independence.

Financial assistance is available for those who do not have the resources to afford the monthly costs. Older adults who are on Medicaid or who only receive Social Security benefits can qualify for residency.

2. Assisted living provides an alternative to a nursing home

For those struggling living alone at home, residents at Heritage Woods of Yorkville have the opportunity to live in a private apartment and receive personal assistance and help with medications.

Heritage Woods of Yorkville has certified staff on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The staff offers support services, including housekeeping and laundry.

3. Assisted living offers social interaction

With amenities like an activity room, TV lounge and spacious dining room, Heritage Woods offers a sense of community with opportunities for social interaction. Monthly events include Bingo, Bunco, lunch outings, visits from therapy dogs and movie nights.

Independent activities are offered throughout the day – there’s something for everyone!

Heritage Woods of Minooka, an Assisted Lifestyle Community for the Older Adult, 701 Heritage Woods Drive, Minooka, IL, 60447, 815-467-2837,

Playhouse at Westport Plaza Presents ‘Assisted Living: The Musical’: Review

by Mark Bretz Aug 5, 2019 Updated Aug 5, 2019

Story: An older couple who have recently passed on looks back on the last years of their lives, which were spent in a senior living community known as Pelican Roost. They introduce the audience to some 18 different characters who contribute to the fun times, the eccentricity and wacky adventures for the residents of the full-service, assisted living center and retirement community.

Highlights: Co-creators Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett bring their hit musical comedy to The Playhouse at Westport Plaza for its St. Louis premiere.

Other Info: With the reliable assistance of pianist Jeremy Franklin Goodman, Compton and Bennett played to a full house on opening night. Their one-act, 85-minute show, which is termed a “vaudeville-esque revue” on the production’s web site, was created in 2008 in South Florida, running for more than a year at The Villages, “the Pelican Roost of Central Florida.”

Since then it’s played in San Francisco, New York City and cities throughout the country. The show features original songs written by Bennett and Compton as parodies of pop culture elements such as the “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” infomercial that was a late-night TV stalwart for years.

Bennett and Compton portray several characters apiece, such as Bennett as Naomi Lipshitz-Yamamoto-Murphy, an on-site realtor who has lived in three of the four options available to Pelican Roost residents, one with each of her three spouses, moving up the ladder each time one of her husbands has died. “I not only live here, I sell here,” she proclaims in her tacky attire and thick New York accent.

Compton plays a sleazy attorney who promises legal action for pretty much anything that may happen to the senior residents of Pelican Roost. It’s not very funny when Compton first introduces the character and descends quickly from there with each subsequent appearance.

There are songs joking about Viagra, about a 93-year-old man who cruises in his Cadillac and brings a new meaning to ‘drive-thru window,’ and concerning an unfortunate tattoo from earlier days. Songs carry such titles as The Lost-My-Dentures-on-Steak-Night Blues, WalkerDude@FacebookDotCom, Vernon’s Burnin’ Passion and Hypochondriacal.

Assisted Living: The Musical has been a hit in cities wherever it has played, says its web site, and already most of the tickets for its St. Louis run have been sold. Both performers enthusiastically belt out their tunes and revel in the comedy, and many in the audience appeared to enjoy themselves.

The two writer/performers and accompanist Goodman work hard throughout to find nuggets of laughter and a continuing zest for life among the roster of retirement community residents, even if at a bit slower pace. Who can argue with success?

Musical: Assisted Living: The Musical

Company: Emery Entertainment

Venue: The Playhouse at Westport Plaza

Dates: Through August 11

Tickets: $55; contact or 534-1111

Photos courtesy of Emery Entertainment

Alaska governor proposes assisted living rate increase

Link to the original article
The governor of Alaska is moving ahead with a plan to increase in prices at assisted living homes, a report said.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed increasing Alaska Pioneer Home rates between 40% and 140% by Sept. 1, The Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.

The Dunleavy administration submitted the proposal to offset the state budget’s $12.3 million cut to funding for the homes, state officials said.

There are currently three levels of service ranging from about $2,500 a month to $6,800 a month depending on the level of care needed. The proposal includes five levels of service ranging from about $3,600 a month to $15,000 a month, officials said.

This new plan is intended to increase revenue, but some residents fear the higher prices will make the homes unaffordable.

“We were ready for an increase but not more than double. More than $13K a month for a double room is wrong,” Amy Jo Meiners said in a post on Twitter.

Proposed rates would affect all six Pioneer Homes locations in Sitka, Anchorage, Palmer, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Fairbanks, the newspaper said.

Need-based financial assistance, including Medicaid coverage, would be available, the Department of Health and Social Services said.

Some lawmakers proposed a bill to set a maximum price increase and if signed into law, it would reverse the increase scheduled to take effect in September, state officials said. The bill passed the House earlier this year, but consideration by the Senate is not expected before it convenes in January.


The story has been corrected to say that the governor of Alaska is moving ahead with a plan to increase in prices at assisted living homes.

TO YOUR HEALTH: When assisted living feels like home

Link to original story:

The residents of The Amber Assisted Living feel more like family members than they do like housemates. The “family feeling” is exactly what Heather Medina, Executive Director, strives to create.

The Amber Assisted Living, located at 365 SW Bel Air Drive in Clatskanie, provides assisted living to its senior residents, according to information on its website. It has existed since at least 2003, according to Medina. Since then, the facility has experienced a lot of changes, and for the better, Medina said.

When she started working at The Amber in 2015, Medina was employed as a medical technician, more commonly shortened to “med tech.” She worked there until 2017, and during that time, Medina said things were not going very well. One metric that Medina said exemplifies the failings of the facility during that time were online reviews on crowd-sourced review sites such as or

“If you would post online looking for a job, people would say ‘don’t go there,’” Medina said. “Now, I can post and people will say ‘it’s a great place to work, it’s a great place to live.’ That’s how I like to compare the reputation.”

In 2015, the turnover of staff and administration at the place was high. Back then, Medina said there was a general lack of family involvement, and staff was under-trained.

Nowadays, it’s a very different story. Medina said it’s common for residents’ grandchildren to spend the night, and to have families over for the holidays.

Medina believes a lot of these changes come from improved staff training. The Amber employs a staff of 21: 16 caregivers and med techs, three kitchen staff, one maintenance manager and one nurse. There are also two volunteers that are in charge of the Sunday and Monday church services. While all of them contribute to the general upkeep and maintenance of the facility, the care of the residents falls primarily into the hands of the med techs and caregivers. As a former med tech herself, Medina said she understood the importance of ensuring that med techs were as familiar as possible with residents and their needs.

“We try to make sure they know every resident, who’s in which room and what they need.

We have them read care plans and know what they’re doing before they’re on their own. We make sure that the confidence is there and that they know what they’re doing. Nobody’s ever thrown to the wolves,” Medina said.

Medina said she believes improved training has made a big difference in the quality of care that the elderly in the facility receive.

As for the daily activities, there are a lot of things for residents to do. According to Medina, residents can participate in up to three activities per day. Most recently, the residents did canvas painting, a dice game, and decorated their “positivity board,” which provides positive messages for residents to read.

Amenities provided for residents include a pool table where pool tournaments are often held, a library, a movie room, an activities room filled with board games, and even a salon. Residents can participate in leading activities. On Saturdays, Julia Lambert leads bingo, and she also runs a community store for the other residents.

Recently, The Amber had its first barbecue, something Medina wants to repeat on an annual basis. The barbecue is just one example of Medina trying to include residents’ families as much as possible.

Several residents said they feel like a family, not like folks who happen to live in the same facility.

“We all consider ourselves a family, and I think that every new person that comes in is like family. Even the staff, they treat us like we’re one of their own kin,” Lambert said.

Lambert, 61, said she has only one blood-related family member left, her sister, who has health issues that make it hard for her to visit. She and her sister talk on the phone a lot, but Lambert does not feel lonely due to lack of visitors. She recommends the place to anyone considering assisted living.

“If you’re older and you still feel like you have things to do, I think you should come here and join us, and be part of our family, and not just be sitting in a bed,” Lambert said. “We’re not really a community, we’re a family.”

New senior living center in Columbia County aims to be a community inside of a community

By Lex Juarez | July 25, 2019 at 10:29 PM EDT – Updated July 26 at 3:29 PM
Link to the original article:

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) – A new senior living center opened its doors in Columbia County on Thursday, July 25, for a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Thrive at Augusta Senior Living has been in town constructing and planning for over a year, and residents will start moving in in August.

Herbert Olsen is one of 20 who have already picked out a room in the building. He said, “It really is different. I was retired, living in a big house, and I didn’t think I needed that. This will be more comfortable.” Olsen’s daughter is excited he is moving too, as she lives just around the corner. However, operators say the establishment will offer more than comfort, striving to create a community. Melita Winnick, President of Thrive at Augusta explained, “A community is a place where people come and they thrive. They socialize and have different options for them, and there’s a lot of choice. A facility is a place they have to go to. There’s limited choices, there’s no luxury and it feels very clinical.” Tammy Shepherd, President and CEO of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce added, “It’s focused on having a great quality of life for our seniors, and what a great amenity to have here.”

Thrive at Augusta works to offer residents a more at home feel. The building houses a gym, movie theatre, a salon and spa, outdoor parks and game areas as well as multiple dining rooms. It joins six other senior living centers in the area, and Shepherd says helps fill the need in our community. She said, “As baby boomers are coming out of the workforce and growing older, to be able to have a facility, or a community as they like to say, to carry out that next stage of life is so important.”

The building sits on only 13 of the 40 acres the company has. They are already planning on expansion, starting with redoing an old farm house next door and turning it into a Bed and Breakfast.

Report: Financial fraud is targeting older adults at record levels

The financial exploitation of older people is a rampant epidemic in America. A recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau revealed that each incident of financial fraud cost older adults ages 70 to 79 an average of $45,300. And when the older adult knew the suspect, the average loss rose to about $50,000.

As older adults experience more wealth events – from selling a home to making IRA withdrawals – they become more vulnerable to scammers. This can often happen when older people lose touch with those who can help protect them. While technology has made lots of things easier, including managing money, it has also increased the ways for scammers to weaponize fraudulent activity. It is more critical than ever to empower older adults to protect their financial accounts – and for trusted family and friends to help them do so, before it’s too late.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is observed in June. This is a great reminder and call to action to act on this topic. Through increased awareness and concrete steps, we can help our loved ones better protect their financial assets.

How to spot financial fraud

Former FBI section chief of the Cyber Threat Division Greg Ruppert, now the head of financial crimes risk management at Charles Schwab, said, “I’ve seen every trick scammers use to separate older adults from their money and they are ever more targeted and sophisticated in their approach. Financial scams, no matter the amount lost, are devastating to older adults, who rely on those resources and are unable to recoup the loss.”

Common types of scams targeting older adults include healthcare insurance scams, counterfeit prescription drug schemes, romance scams, person-in-need scams, lottery scams, funeral and cemetery scams, telemarketing/phone scams and investment schemes.

How family members can help

Help protect your older family member against financial scams by staying engaged so you can spot the signs of an investment scam and help if warning signs appear. Speak to them regularly and be on alert for clues, for example if they mention being asked for money, or that managing their finances is confusing or overwhelming.

When you visit them in their home, notice visual cues such as unpaid bills or piles of unopened mail and physical clues like fearful behavior, worsening of an illness or disability as the result of the pressure from a scammer’s tactics.

One of the biggest risk factors for older adults when fraud has taken place is being too embarrassed to admit they may have been scammed to ask for help. This hesitancy can only be overcome with regular communication and wellness check-ins with trusted family members.

5 steps to safeguard financial assets

Here’s how you can avoid scams and make sure you and your senior family members are not victims of financial fraud:

* Designate a trusted contact. Financial institutions like Charles Schwab provide an option to designate a trusted contact – a person who can speak to your financial services provider in the event of an emergency, such as financial exploitation.

* Get your financial affairs in order. Understand your full financial situation, including locating and filing key financial records, creating or reviewing wills, establishing trusts and power of attorney declarations, and updating account and insurance policy beneficiaries as your life situation changes.

* Guard your passwords. According to the 2018 FBI Internet Crime Report, people over 60 experience the most incidents of online investment scams and the highest monetary loss. To protect your online financial accounts, create unique passwords and never share usernames, logins, passwords or personal identification numbers.

* Get smart with your smartphone. Scammers can mask their phone number to make it appear that a call is local or from a trusted party. Prevent telemarketing scams by joining the National Do Not Call registry and let calls from unknown phone numbers go to voicemail.

* Up your technology game. Local recreation centers and libraries offer technology and digital literacy classes to help older adults and their family members protect themselves online and learn about the latest financial schemes.

To learn more about how to educate yourself and your older family members on the latest financial schemes, visit:

How to pay for senior living

Shopping. Cooking. Cleaning. The burdens of living alone were taking a toll on Joyce, who at 89 was the oldest resident in her apartment building. Though she’d spent a lifetime saving money, Joyce wasn’t sure what she could afford. Her daughter Sandy knew it was time to talk about senior living.

“It took some convincing to help her understand this was what she had saved for,” said Sandy. “With the sale of her house and retirement savings, she could live comfortably in independent senior living. Plus, she would be around people her age, have plenty of activities and three nice meals a day.”

Joyce’s senior living journey isn’t unique. Most people are either not prepared for the potential costs of senior living, or think they’re not prepared. A survey of 2,000 Americans 18 to over 51 for Brookdale Senior Living revealed 65% aren’t saving money to pay for senior living, and 21% said they won’t be able to pay for it or don’t know how they’ll pay for it. Only half said they have a plan in place.

Mary Sue Patchett, Brookdale’s executive vice president of community and field operations, recommends avoiding sticker shock by assessing current expenses. You may find that freeing yourself of expenses tied to living in a house – mortgage, food, transportation, utilities, home maintenance and more – and incorporating these into one payment for a senior living community is more cost-effective than expected.

Patchett recommends seeking a flexible pricing structure at a senior living community, as one size does not fit all. Making a choice that fits your situation means you won’t be paying for unnecessary services.

Sandy found two locations that fit her mom’s needs and compared costs of living alone to the cost of senior living. They landed on a Brookdale community near Sandy’s home.

“Adult children must understand their parent’s misgivings and help them decide what’s best,” said Sandy. “Considering my mom’s age, senior living was a smart move. The cost is comparable to living alone and provides peace of mind for everyone. We know she is eating, socializing and safe.”

How do people pay for senior living, and how can you keep costs affordable?

Current assets and income are what most people use to pay for senior living, just as they would pay for expenses staying in their current home: savings, pension or retirement plan funds, social security and annuities. Like Joyce, one big source of funds comes from the sale of their current home.

Long-term care insurance is a possible source for those with chronic disability or illness, if they have a policy. Rules regarding benefits and eligibility vary per state and policy.

Veterans’ benefits, through the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension, can help veterans and spouses offset costs of long-term care and/or assisted living at some communities.

Selling or cashing out a life insurance policy may be one route for those who no longer need life insurance. There are many options, so you should shop around. Consult your tax, financial and legal advisors to determine the implications of this option.

Medicaid options may provide some assistance for assisted living, depending on where you live and if you qualify. Do not confuse Medicaid with Medicare, which does not cover assisted living costs.

Family support is another source to consider for help with the cost of assisted living. In many families, children or other family members contribute to the cost of senior living. It’s best to discuss possible support with family before the need arises.

By selecting a senior living community that provides just the amount of care you need, you can keep costs low. Many communities offer options from apartments with kitchens and guest rooms to just a bedroom and bath. Opting for a roommate can save a lot. Senior living communities offering independent and assisted living or other care services on one campus helps couples stay together, even when they need different levels of care, and make it easier to move from one area to another if needs change.

Now is a good time to assess your situation and talk with your spouse or family about your needs and desires down the road. Planning ahead lets you tour communities and decide what services and amenities you want and need.

Forty-eight hours after Joyce moved to Brookdale, she was thrilled with her decision. Sandy immediately noticed a change in her mom. She met a group of ladies she refers to as “the girls” and quickly found her purpose as the community librarian. She’s happier than she was in her apartment, and according to Sandy, that makes it worth every penny.

For information about Brookdale Senior Living, visit

Watercrest Senior Living Awarded Management of Inspired Living of Palm Bay: Launches Rebranding as Palm Bay Memory Care

Watercrest Senior Living Group
Jul 26, 2019, 12:53 ET

VERO BEACH, Fla., July 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Watercrest Senior Living Group has been awarded management of the senior living community formerly known as Inspired Living of Palm Bay, Florida. As of July 1st, 2019, Watercrest Senior Living has stepped in to provide operational leadership of the community newly launched as Palm Bay Memory Care.

Earlier this month, Watercrest’s senior leadership team welcomed and engaged the associates, families and residents as they implemented Watercrest’s innovative care, training and service programs in conjunction with the launch of Palm Bay Memory Care.


Watercrest Senior Living Group Awarded Management of Inspired Living of Palm Bay; Launches Rebranding as Palm Bay Memory Care.
Watercrest Senior Living Group Awarded Management of Inspired Living of Palm Bay; Launches Rebranding as Palm Bay Memory Care.
“We are thrilled to welcome the associates who have passionately served the residents of this community for many years,” says Marc Vorkapich, Principal and CEO of Watercrest Senior Living Group. “It is inspiring to bring teams together, cultivating new relationships and growth to serve the seniors of Palm Bay with the highest levels of care.”

Watercrest Senior Living Group was founded by Marc Vorkapich, CEO, and Joan Williams, CFO, to honor our mothers and fathers, aspiring to become a beacon for quality in senior living by surpassing standards of care, service and associate training. Watercrest senior living communities are recognized for their luxury aesthetic, exceptional amenities, world-class care, and innovative memory care programming offering unparalleled service to seniors living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Watercrest Senior Living Group is unique in their growth mindset, modeling servant leadership and exceptional standards of customer service within every level of the organization. Watercrest associates champion a culture which nurtures relationships in the interest of acting as trusted advisors. By continuously investing in these servant hearts, Watercrest develops value-centered leaders who deliver personalized service.

“My years spent in senior living have shown me that many come to this industry accidentally, but once you experience it, you never want to leave” says Michele Lyon, Executive Director of Palm Bay Memory Care. “These are my people: the stories they tell, the lives they have lived and the knowledge they share is priceless. I’m overjoyed to continue serving our seniors with excellence here at Palm Bay Memory Care.”

Palm Bay Memory Care is ideally located at 350 Malabar Road SW in Palm Bay, Fl. The all-memory care residence features 72 apartments with gracious accommodations and upscale amenities. Residents enjoy state-of-the-art wellness, enhanced culinary, and exceptional care programs, all tailored to individual resident preferences. To schedule a tour, contact Michele Lyon at 321-574-6290.

A certified Great Place to Work, Watercrest Senior Living Group specializes in the development and operations management of assisted living and memory care communities and the growth of servant leaders. With multiple senior living projects in development across the southeast, Watercrest is setting new standards of quality for seniors and their families in the development of upscale senior living communities. Visit or for more information.

SOURCE Watercrest Senior Living Group

Workers, Retirees Are Feeling Better About Retirement Finances

By Anne Tergesen
April 23, 2019 12:01 a.m. ET

With the U.S. economy strong and stocks near record levels, retirees’ and workers’ confidence in having enough money for retirement rose over the past year to new highs, according to a long-running survey released Tuesday.

According to the annual survey by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute, 82% of polled retirees are optimistic about their ability to live comfortably in retirement, up from 75% last year. The figure closely matches the levels recorded in 2005 and 2017 and is the highest since the survey started…

Read More

Music Plays a Leading Role in New Health Products for Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Link to original article:

by Andy Hermann

“To be able to express a song, you’re literally capitalizing on the whole brain,” says Andy Tubman of Musical Health Technologies.

On a recent Thursday at OPICA, an adult daycare center in West Los Angeles, a music therapist named Andy Tubman leads a group of 10 seniors through a sing-along of “America the Beautiful.” As the music starts, he points to his ear. “Listen for the words,” he coaches.

The seniors — all experiencing “some degree of cognitive decline,” as Tubman puts it — start hesitantly at first. But with the therapist’s encouragement, most are soon belting out the familiar tune. “Oh my goodness, you’re singers!” Tubman effuses, as aging vocal cords strain to reach the high notes of “above the fruited plain.”

They’re also helped by a unique feature on the track they’re singing along to: a soothing male voice that speaks each lyric before it’s sung. This comes especially in handy on the song’s next verse, the seldom-heard, “O beautiful for patriot dream, that sees beyond the years.” But for people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, remembering the first verse of “America the Beautiful” can be a challenge, too — hence the spoken-word prompts built into the therapeutic music program called SingFit, developed by Tubman’s company, Musical Health Technologies.

Founded in 2012 by Tubman and his sister, Rachel Francine, Musical Health Technologies is one of several companies developing products based on a growing body of scientific evidence that music can be a powerful tool in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia. “To be able to express a song, you’re literally capitalizing on the whole brain,” says Tubman, a licensed music therapist and the main designer of his company’s suite of singing programs for eldercare facilities, which is called SingFit Prime. “Language centers, timing centers, motor centers, planning centers — you get this whole brain exercise.”

SingFit Prime, which Musical Health Technologies launched in 2014, focuses on using music as an interactive tool, but even passive music listening stimulates the brain in ways that can be beneficial to Alzheimer’s patients. A 2018 study at University of Utah Health used real-time MRI scans of patients’ brain activity to demonstrate that familiar music lit up areas of the brain, like the supplemental motor area, that remain active in patients with advanced Alzheimer’s, even as activity in speech and memory pathways declines as the disease progresses.

“This might be a sort of window where you can reach patients with Alzheimer’s disease, because it’s a part of the brain that still tends to be functioning until very late in their whole disorder,” says Dr. Jeff Anderson, one of the co-authors of the study.

Anderson notes that part of the inspiration for the study was the 2014 documentary Alive Inside, which showed patients with extremely advanced Alzheimer’s appearing to become animated and lucid in response to familiar music. As powerful as that film was, its depiction of Alzheimer’s patients interacting with music was anecdotal. Anderson’s colleagues, and the philanthropist who funded their study, thought that “maybe there’s some way to put a little more science behind it.”

In the Netherlands, another set of Alzheimer’s-related products began not as a scientific experiment, but as an art project. In 2015, Dutch artists and designers Roos Meerman and Tom Kortbeek created the Tactile Orchestra, a large wall installation covered in soft fur that responds to different kinds of touch with a range of sounds and musical tones. Soon after they debuted the project, they were contacted by several Dutch health organizations. “This multisensoric experience that your art piece provides will be very useful maybe for our healthcare process, for people with dementia,” Kortbeek recalls them saying.

Last year, Meerman and Kortbeek launched Kozie, a company that takes the tactile, multisensory experience of the Tactile Orchestra and applies it to therapeutic music products. Their first product, the KozieWe, is a modified version of the Tactile Orchestra, designed for group therapy sessions in which the goal is to get Alzheimer’s patients connecting and interacting with one another. They also introduced the KozieMe, a pillow with built-in speakers that can play familiar music or comforting messages for the patient, activated with a simple touch or a squeeze. Last month, both products made their U.S. debut at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival; Kortbeek and Meerman say the response was overwhelmingly positive and they’ve already begun plans for introducing Kozie products to the U.S. market.

“The whole goal is to make healthcare really personal,” says Meerman, who watched her own grandmother struggle with dementia. “Music is really a way to connect with a person that has dementia.”

At Tubman’s SingFit Prime session at OPICA, you can see those connections happening. Both during and between songs, Tubman gently encourages the seniors to participate not only by singing, but by clapping, tapping their feet, and finishing his sentences. After “American the Beautiful,” he introduces the next song with a few clues: It’s a city to the north, with a famous bridge. “‘I Left My Heart in’ …” he says, voice trailing off.

“San Francisco!” several participants call out.

All of the session’s songs are centered around the theme of geography: Other selections include “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Tennessee Waltz” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” “The theme keeps people on task better,” Tubman explains. Other SingFit Prime curricula are centered around such themes as pets, holidays and the outdoors.

A SingFit app on Tubman’s iPad, played through external speakers, provides the soundtrack. Within the app, Tubman can control the volume of both the guide singer and the “lyric coach,” that speaking voice that telegraphs the line of each song. The guide singer is not Tony Bennett, but a convincing facsimile; a Frank Sinatra impersonator on “Fly Me to the Moon” and “New York, New York” sounds even more like the real deal. Tubman says his company is “snobby” about their singers and arrangements, which are all original and paced so as to provide space for the lyric coach’s prompts.

“We really try to filter through so that the music is authentic,” he explains. Kate Richards Geller, another music therapist who works with Tubman on SingFit, says they choose repertoire based on what she calls seniors’ “sticky years” — that formative period roughly between ages 13 and 23, “the years they were listening to [that] music and all those songs went in and stayed. That’s what we’re providing them is this opportunity to reenter that world.”

In addition to the app, SingFit Prime provides eldercare centers with training for facilitators, props (at OPICA, brightly colored handkerchiefs prove especially popular) and detailed workbooks for each music session, which the facilitator can follow step-by-step to introduce each song, add trivia and commentary to encourage discussion and participation, and adjust the difficulty level depending on the group’s response. The goal, Tubman explains, is to provide a “turnkey” product so that “people who are not music therapists can utilize singing in a really powerful, robust way.” He says over 430 senior communities around the U.S. currently use SingFit Prime, including assisted living, memory care facilities, and adult daycare centers like OPICA.

By the time the group at OPICA finishes their 45-minute singing session, nearly all are fully engaged to a degree that’s rare among patients with advanced Alzheimer’s or dementia. During the final song, “New York, New York,” one man begins to weep; most join Tubman in forming a seated but enthusiastic kick line. As the group disperses, another man laments that the session is ending before they got to his favorite city, then bursts into an impromptu rendition of another geographic Sinatra classic, “Chicago.”

Much clinical work is still to be done before scientists and music therapists fully understand music’s effect on Alzheimer’s patients, or how best to effectively employ music as a therapeutic tool within the Alzheimer’s community. “It’s not any kind of cure,” Anderson cautions. “There’s nothing that changes the course of the disease.” But studies like the one Anderson co-authored, and the early successes of products like Kozie and SingFit, suggest that music’s potential to improve the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s — and, possibly, its power to at least mitigate the long-term effects of the disease — has yet to be fully realized.

“Singing takes place in the whole brain. There are many redundant pathways,” says SingFit’s Francine. “You start to sing and then brain plasticity takes over… It’s really mind-boggling what they’re finding out about the brain and its ability to heal itself.”