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Elderly woman listening to music through headphones at senior care home.

Music to Our Ears: Grant Expands Program Using Music to Tap into Precious Memories

Music has always been an essential part of life on our campus. From musical entertainment to specialized music therapy programs, we’ve long witnessed the power of music to lift our residents’ spirits and engage with each other and the world around them. This is especially true for our residents with dementia who suffer from cognitive decline. Music resonates.

In 2020, we enhanced our musical offerings by bringing Music & Memory™ to our campus. Now, thanks to a $7,500 grant awarded to us by The Field Hall Foundation, we’re expanding the program! The grant enables us to purchase 100 new MP3 players and headphone sets, bringing the healing power of music to more residents and their loved ones. 

Here’s how it works: Together our residents and their families, we create individualized playlists which include favorite songs from the past. These are uploaded onto MP3 players for individual use. 

“Whether it’s a rock tune from our teenage years or showtune or classical piece from our adult years, hearing a favorite melody can transport us,” explains Carrie Deppong, director of therapeutic recreation. “These music-triggered memories can help our residents feel like themselves again, help them socialize and communicate, and feel joy.”

The positive impact of the Music & Memory™ program is well-documented. According to research published in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care, the program can reduce stressed behaviors and use of antipsychotic medication in Alzheimer’s patients. While short-term memory for names, places, and facts is compromised, long-term memory for those in this population is often well-preserved. That means that favorite songs can spark memories of lyrics and experiences associated with music. 

“We’ve seen how music can help our residents remember a special time in their lives – a wedding, birthday, graduation, or a vacation,” notes Deppong. “This reconnection has a calming effect on many of our residents, helping them to function at their highest potential. On another level, the music simply brings happiness and a higher quality of life.”