|Music Row for Music and Memory, a group of women who work on Music Row, donated $1,000 to Mary, Queen of Angels Assisted Living Facilty for its Music and Memory program. Marie Coz, a volunteer with the Music and Memory program dances with resident Maxine Gilliam, who has been participating in the Music and Memory Program at Mary, Queen of Angels. Photo by Andy Telli|
Music can be the key to unlock memories for people suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia and other medical conditions that affect the brain. The staff at Mary, Queen of Angels Assisted Living Facility have implemented a new program to help their residents tap into their memories and make connections with others.
Last summer, the Mary, Queen of Angels staff started working toward certification in the Music and Memories program. The program has been fully operational for about three months, said Marie Coz, a nurse and volunteer at Mary, Queen of Angels.
The program takes advantage of the connection between music and memories, Coz explained. Music can stimulate parts of the brain that can help people recall long-term memories associated with specific songs.
With Music and Memory, a playlist of songs tailored to an individual resident with their favorites from their youth is downloaded onto an ipod Shuffle, Coz said. They listen to the playlist for about an hour a day and the impact can be immediately apparent.
“It has to be music particular to them; what they played at their wedding, the songs they liked when they were young,” Coz said. “We’re still learning their favorite music.”
After listening to some of their favorite songs, residents who can often be unresponsive to the people and environment around them are quickly singing along, moving with the rhythm, and talking and interacting with other people, Coz said. “Their music really brings them awake,” she said.
Twenty-one residents are involved in the program, said Carol Azmitia, Mary, Queen of Angels’ activities assistant. “People on the program when they are listening to the music, they want you to engage,” she said. “They’re seeking me out rather than me approaching them.”
Mary, Queen of Angels recently received a $1,000 donation from the group Music Row for Music and Memory, which is made up of women who work on Music Row. They raised the money through a benefit concert.
The group had been supporting a similar program at another facility for about five years, but when that program ended, they decided to help the program at Mary, Queen of Angels.
Mary, Queen of Angels plans to use the money to expand and improve the program, Azmitia said. The money could be used to buy more ipods, download more songs, or replace the computer they use for the program, she said.
Eventually, the staff would like to be able to adjust the playlist to respond to the patient’s mood, Azmitia day. For example, if the resident is more withdrawn, they could play upbeat songs from their playlist, she said.
People don’t have to wait until they or a loved one is in a facility like Mary, Queen of Angels to start compiling a playlist of their favorite songs, Coz said.
The Music and Memory program was started by a social worker in New York who was a volunteer at a nursing home. After seeing the positive response, he created a non-profit charity to bring the program to other facilities. A video of a man who came alive after listening to some of his favorite tunes went viral, and today, hundreds of facilities in the United States and Canada use Music and Memory.
For more information about the program, visit musicandmemory.org.