Have you heard of Music and Memory?
Dan Cohen founded a non-profit organization called Music and Memory℠ in 2010 after seeing the benefit music afforded nursing home residents throughout New York. A recent documentary entitled “Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory” is available on Netflix and several clips of residents benefitting from the program are available on YouTube, one with over 11 million views! See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyZQf0p73QM
Music and Memory’s Mission and Vision Statement:
“MUSIC & MEMORY℠ is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirm through digital music technology, vastly improving quality of life. We train nursing home staff and other elder care professionals, as well as family caregivers, how to create and provide personalized playlists using iPods and related digital audio systems that enable those struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive and physical challenges to reconnect with the world through music-triggered memories. By providing access and education, and by creating a network of MUSIC & MEMORY℠ Certified elder care facilities, we aim to make this form of personalized therapeutic music a standard of care throughout the health care industry.”
Scientific evidence supports the success of music and memory. Various groups have published data supporting the link between “old” memories in the brain and music. Briefly, the brain stores these memories in the same pathway or spot in the brain that favorite songs might be stored. This part of the brain is one of the last to be affected by dementia. Even patients with Alzheimers have old memories that can be awakened by the playing of a favorite song.
Our residents with dementia deserve the highest quality of care we can provide. This includes non-pharmacologic approaches such as music and memory. The state of Wisconsin has been an early adopter of music and memory enrolling hundreds of nursing homes into the program. If your state isn’t participating, reach out to your local leaders and ask them to consider getting involved. Suggest they visit the website or watch the documentary on Netflix. Even if you don’t have a program at your facility, welcome families, friends and volunteers to contribute and help find resources. Your residents with dementia and their families will be grateful for your effort and contribution.
This article was originally published in our monthly issue of From the Front Lines – a monthly publication that shares best practices and medication-related challenges faced by “front line” staff in long-term care and post-acute (LTCPAC) facilities.