Music and Memory
March 28, 2017

My dad was a musician before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. How can I incorporate his love of music into a plan for his care going forward?

Music has proved to be very therapeutic, especially for those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Often times when a person suffers from some sort of cognitive degeneration, it is their short term memory that suffers opposed to those long term memories that seem to stay more vibrantly intact for a much longer period of time.

We’ve all had that experience where you’re driving down the street and an old tune hums through the speakers of your car stereo. Suddenly, a flood of memories come rushing back; transporting you to a time or place that your mind has associated with that specific song. The same experience can be possible for someone with dementia. Music has been used as an effective non-pharmacological method to treat symptoms of dementia as it has the ability to ease agitation and anxiety while promoting inclusion and engagement.

The Music & Memory Program was founded by Dan Cohen and created through his research around music’s ability to unlock memories and help individuals with dementia re-connect with the world around them. In recent years, Mr. Cohen’s work has inspired a documentary called Alive Inside. The film features several individuals with dementia and their experiences when being reintroduced to the soundtracks of their earlier years.

Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley is a Music & Memory Certified Care Organization and can refer clients to the Music & Memory Program. For more information on the Music & Memory Program or to inquire about a referral, please contact The Family Caregiver Support Program at 978-683-7747.

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