Photo Courtesy of NPRHave you ever heard a song on the radio and and been sent back to a specific moment in time? Maybe The Eagles’ “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” provided the background music to your first kiss? Or "Oops!...I Did It Again" by Britney Spears reminds you of your eighth grade school dance? Whatever your story, nearly everyone is transported to the past when they hear a familiar song, and few people would dare contradict you when you mention the power of music. It is something, that though we don’t fully understand, we can all relate to. Dan Cohen, social worker and creator of the program “Music & Memory” seeks to tap into the universality of music, and the regenerative effects it can have on an individual’s memory.
The program seeks to create personalized playlists for patients, based on what they listened to in the past, and respond positively to. What Dan and his fellow volunteers need are iPods. Old iPods that people have replaced with newer models and iPhones that are just sitting in a drawer somewhere lonely and gathering dust can be used to better someone’s quality of life. When memory loss occurs, the world is a frightening place, nothing is familiar. Cohen and other Music & Memory proponents state that the use of recognizable music often sees patients able to talk about their pasts and socialize better. They become more comfortable with their surroundings because something finally makes sense again.
Cohen hopes to make access to personalized music the norm in nursing homes across the U.S. Because the music is provided through iPods, some people wonder if it will cause patients to become more isolated. However, the program has found that the overwhelming majority of patients have expressed the opposite by trying to share music with others, and socializing more comfortably and with more life.
The fact that something so simple can make someone’s quality of life that much better seems almost too good to be true, but neuroscientist Dr. Oliver Sacks confirms that “music brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can." Anyone with a loved one suffering from a memory disorder knows how seemingly hopeless it can be, which is why Music & Memory is striving to give them a little hope back. So, if you have an old MP3 player sitting in the back of a drawer somewhere, why not do some good and donate it to Music & Memory?
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