Music and Memories

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by Davis Park, Executive Director of the Center for Innovation and Wellbeing
I’m not a devout Connie Francis fan, but there’s something about her song “Among My Souvenirs” that spawns an intensely warm memory. Back when it wasn’t illegal to leave children under the age of six unattended in a vehicle, my parents often would drive into a store parking lot, pop in an 8-track tape, and tell my younger sister and me to wait while they ran a quick errand.

With the dreamy melody of Connie’s voice piping through the car’s speakers, we played inside our Volvo station wagon. The familiar smells in the car and the texture of the soft seats are still so salient in my memory that whenever I hear that song, I’m instantly whisked back to my childhood happiness.

We all have similar recollections of our past conjured by certain melodies and songs—specific and unique to us. These experiences tend to stay with us forever, even as we struggle with cognitive decline through age. Musical recognition, researchers say, is one of the last abilities that we’re able to retain through late-stage dementia.

The Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing (FPCIW) wanted to research solutions that could support memory care for older adults who are socially withdrawn, non-responsive or anxious. We came across Music and Memory℠, an innovative yet accessible and simple program built on the premise that individualized playlists can stimulate memories and engage people in late-stage dementia. Backed by many research studies, Music and Memory℠ is an evidence-based approach that harnesses the use of music players, such as iPods or other MP3 players, with personalized musical selections to support memory care and help people age with dignity.

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