Thursday, 9 May 2013

Music and Memory, and Mom, Dad and Their Peers

I met Dan Cohen 14 months ago when he suggested we discuss our shared conviction about the power of music with the elderly. He had been working on a program of delivering iPods to people in nursing homes, along with earphones and individualized playlists. I loved what he was doing and we discussed how he might expand the support he had for the effort. One week later, a 6-minute video clip of his work went viral on the internet. More than 6 million people watched a 6 minute sequence from the soon-to-re-released film ALIVE INSIDE that a friend of Dan's was making. If you haven't seen the video, here it is:

Since then people around the world have been contributing iPods and their time, and training programs for staff at various institutions have been established. Dan and I spoke recently about how to get individuals who were not personnel at day and residential centers to learn how to help people make their personalized playlists. I spent several hours with my friend Georgia who accompanied me to Australia, thinking about the songs and musicians that have been important to us, and now I'm going to make a sample playlist that spans my childhood - adolescence - young adulthood - and up to now. It's both hard and fun to recall what those songs are!

I remain convinced that this is a wonderful approach for everyone, but especially for people with dementia. For example, Pearl is an Australian woman in her 90's, living in a four-generation household. Her musical history is different from that of her great grandchildren, to be sure, but I think she derives at least as much pleasure from having "her" music so available all the time.

Think of how you might take advantage of what Dan has pioneered... and how you might contribute to his efforts as well. Happy Mother's Day! (and don't forget that your Dad might also love to have a personalized playlist!). I didn't have this message on time to share it with you with enough advance time, but it's not too late to do give Mom a belated gift, to prepare a Father's Day gift for your Dad, and to contribute the the Music and Memory cause. Dan's website is Music and Memory, and the link is

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