From a single nursing home to over 2,000 certified facilities, Music & Memory has expanded exponentially since it was first founded in 2010. The mental health program, which uses the transformative power of music to help improve the lives of the elderly living with cognitive and physical impairments, is now also active in Australia. "Music therapists want people to use music in their life. If people are gathering music for their loved ones, that's a beautiful thing," Australian Music Therapy Association president Dr. Grace Thompson said in a recent interview. Run in collaboration with the Arts Health Institute, the Music and Memory program will begin in residential care facilities, with an aim to eventually delivering the service to hospitals and mental care facilities.
The Music and Memory project is widespread across the USA and Canada and now it will be brought to Australia in an effort to "reawaken the soul" with music. The project started from humble beginnings, when founder Dan Cohen started to think how if he ended up in a nursing home, he would still like to listen to his own favorite music. "We make our own playlists, so why not do it for our elders? We don't think of it because they have never liked technology, so my thought is 'what do you love to listen to?" Once the favorites were chosen, Mr Cohen said he took care of the technology side of things. Mr Cohen started volunteering in New York nursing homes, working alongside staff and family to create personalized playlists for residents to enjoy. The initial reaction from clients was so positive, he invited a filmmaker to visit and record what happened when residents experienced music they loved. That very first session became a viral video, as 92-year-old Henry Dryer — who suffered from dementia — "came alive" after listening to some of his beloved spiritual music. These early breakthroughs became the basis for the feature documentary 'Alive Inside' which was a surprise hit at the Sundance Film Festival and was screened across the globe. The documentary followed Mr Cohen as he fought against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music's ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.
For more music news, follow @EYESINMagazine.
Source: Music & Memory