Music and Memory: “Our ears may be the portal to our memory”

Music and Memory


If the eyes are a window to the soul, then our ears may be the portal to our memory.

Music as therapy for Alzheimer’s patients has received a great deal of attention over the past several years. In 2006, Dan Cohen founded an organization called Music & Memory based on the idea that if he ended up in a nursing home, he wanted to be able to listen to his favorite ‘60‘s music.   After discovering that none of the 16,000 long-term care facilities in the United Stated used iPods for their residents, he volunteered to create personalized playlists on iPods for residents at a local nursing home in New York City. Music & Memory has never looked back. Since its inception, the organization has “implemented iPod personalized music programs in hundreds of care facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada.” By providing access and education, and by creating a network of certified eldercare facilities, Music & Memory aims to make this form of personalized therapeutic music a standard of care throughout the health care industry.

Coalmont resident, Diane Sterne learned of the Music & Memory personalized music program and brought it to the attention of Support Our Health Care (SOHC). Nienke Klaver, SOHC Secretary, is now working with Barb Gagnon, Ridgewood Lodge Recreation Director, to establish the program in Princeton. In an interview with Gagnon, she told SOHC that she asks new residents and their families what type of music they like to listen to so she can get a feel for their interests. “You can really tell when someone likes a piece of music or when it soothes them”, she said.

Gagnon related an incident when a church group came to Ridgewood to sing songs with the residents. One member of the group played the violin. Gagnon happened to mention that one of her residents used to play the violin as a child and would she be allowed to let her hold the instrument.  The violin was handed to her and right away she put it under her chin, held the bow and started to play along with the music.  She hadn’t played since she was a teenager, but holding the instrument reawakened her memory and she just started to play.

Gagnon is interested in taking the certification course developed by Music & Memory, which involves the creation of a facility-ready iTunes library, managing resident playlists, handling equipment and security concerns, integrating personalized digital music into daily care plans, and evaluating the program’s effectiveness. When certified, Ridgewood Lodge will be one of only five facilities in BC offering this program.

SOHC will be covering the cost of the course and certification which is made possible through a generous donation by Doug Rebagliati, in memory of his wife, Mary Bedford. Mary was an active member of Princeton’s arts community and served many years on the Board of the Princeton and District Arts Council. In her final years, she was a resident at Ridgewood Lodge. Additional funding for the purchase of iPods has been made available through a donation by the Princeton Rotary club.

For anyone who would like more information on this program, SOHC invites you to look at any of the following links: – Henry’s Story – Seniors Fall In Love With iPods At Retirement Home

http://musicandmemory.orgMusic & Memory website

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