A man singing and playing guitar walks down the hallway of a nursing home and the residents excitedly poke their heads out of the doorways.

What is the MUSIC & MEMORY® Program?

The MUSIC & MEMORY® Program helps people with dementia and memory loss by providing them with playlists of music they loved from their past. Familiar music can help people with dementia feel less anxious and experience some joy in their lives.1

Alzheimer’s comes with memory loss and behavior changes

As we or our loved ones age, we may be prone to memory loss and confusion. These problems can be due to many different underlying conditions that affect the brain and impair its functioning.

People with Alzheimer’s disease have memory loss, difficulty thinking, and behavior changes. At the moment, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s.2 There are a few medicines that can treat some of the symptoms experienced by people with Alzheimer’s. But in general, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, which means that it gets worse over time.3

Impact of music on the brain

Over the years, brain and behavioral researchers have learned that music can activate many regions of the brain. These include areas that control our memory, movement, emotions, and creativity. In fact, listening to music from our past can trigger old memories called “music-evoked autobiographical memories” (MEAMs). Even people with serious brain injuries can experience memories when they listen to familiar music from their past.4

What is the MUSIC & MEMORY® Program?

MUSIC & MEMORY® is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly and the ill. It also helps people suffering from dementia or other forms of memory loss and confusion. The organization trains caregivers at home and in long-term and memory care settings. The program enables people struggling with dementia to reconnect to the world through memories that get triggered through familiar music.5

Benefits of the MUSIC & MEMORY® Program for Alzheimer's

Research into the impact of the MUSIC & MEMORY® Program has shown consistent benefits:1

  • Participants are happier and more social.
  • Relationships among staff, participants, and families deepen.
  • The atmosphere in participating facilities becomes calmer and more supportive.
  • Staff can reduce their focus on managing difficult behaviors.
  • A personalized music program may help patients reduce their reliance on anti-psychotic medications.

According to their most recent annual report, MUSIC & MEMORY® is practiced in 5,000 care facilities worldwide, reaching 75,000 participants. The program operates in North America, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Each participant listens to 5 hours of music per week. The program uses iPods and other digital technologies to bring music to its participants.6

Research into MUSIC & MEMORY® program

A small study by researchers at Brown University showed promise with the MUSIC & MEMORY® Program. Nursing homes certified in the program experienced fewer behavioral problems and needed fewer anti-psychotic drugs for their patients. The researchers will now do a much larger, more systematic study of the program. The idea is to be sure the program is effective and to get a handle on best practices.7

Researchers at the University of California at Davis are also measuring to see whether the music program reduces aggressive behavior and cuts down on the use of antipsychotic drugs at the 300 California nursing homes where the program has been rolled out.6

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.