Music & Memory Program Brings 'Joyful Therapy' to Individuals with Alzheimer's and Dementia

Mar 25, 2015

Credit Music & Memory, Facebook Page

Haws Memorial Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Fulton is embarking on the use of the program Music & Memory with those suffering with Alzheimer's and dementia. The Center's Jo Ann Roy says that they have about twelve iPods in use with residents and in a month or so they will bring families in to view the documentary about Music & Memory titled "Alive Inside" at the facility. In Murray, Cheri Theatres offers two free viewings of "Alive Inside," winner of the Audience Award at last year's Sundance Film Festival. Kate Lochte speaks with Deborah Ferris, Regional Program Coordinator for Music & Memory about the organization and how iPods full of music help give patients therapeutic joy.

Music & Memory uses iPods loaded with personalized music playlists to deliver a transformative therapeutic program designed for elders and the infirmed. It accomplishes this by building a music library customized to the individual's taste and songs they would recognize. The idea is that the patient would experience a reaction - like toe-tapping - with every song. By delivering this service via iPods, it can go to a patient or travel with a patient anywhere.

Ferris says the program has yielded some unexpected benefits. Designed primarily to bring joy to individuals, it also enhances communication; can offset depression, pain, boredom; and lower the use of medications like anti-depressants, anti-psychotics or pain relief. Music is related to our emotions, she says, sharing the same part of the brain as long-term memory. "That explains why an individual sometimes may not be connected to their surroundings or what's going on in the present, but they can remember the words to a song from their youth exactly." In her own experience with her mother, Ferris says it was like she could time travel to another place with her music.

Music & Memory can reach people who are sometimes unreachable, Ferris says, giving them new hope. It's an opportunity for staff in facilities and caregivers to have an opportunity to foster more meaningful personal connections with the people they're caring for and their family members. She encourages people to see the documentary, which became a catalyst to propel the program across the country.

In Murray, Thursday, Cheri Theatres offers two free viewings of "Alive Inside." The screenings at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. are made possible with an arts access grant from the Kentucky Arts Council to the Murray-Calloway Endowment for Health Care.

"Alive Inside" Official Trailer

More at the Cheri Theatres Website

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