Exceptional Care.  Always.

Music & Memory Program

Memorial Nursing & Rehabilitation Center


     There are moments in our lives that are defined by music.  Each and every one of us has a soundtrack to our life that is both personal and precious.  From individual songs that create a snapshot of a specific moment to entire genres that bring us back to better times, music is a driving factor in our lives.  It molds who we are and triggers the memories we hold most dear.  This is the basis of a program that is being implemented at the Memorial Nursing and Rehabilitation Center here in Dumas to help combat the effects of Alzheimer’s in nursing home residents.

     The Music & Memory program began with a simple idea put forward by founder Dan Cohen.  Dan had reflected that one day, if he was ever placed into a nursing home, that we would spend his days listening to his favorite music from the 60’s.  The idea then caught momentum with the application of personal music players, specifically IPods, to play personalized music from throughout the resident’s lives.  The early program was such a hit with residents, families, and caregivers that it became the prototype for a greater endeavor to specifically aid caregivers with residents who exhibited Alzheimer’s.

     Since then, the program became so successful that hundreds of care facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada have implemented the program and witnessed benefits in those they care for who were often the most difficult to reach; those in stages of dementia.  With the assistance of “the soundtracks of their lives”, caregivers have seen residents happier, more willing to accept care, experience less anxiety and fear, and become more engaged with those around them.  Families are finding that they are able to connect in more meaningful ways with their loved ones.

     The Memorial Nursing & Rehabilitation Center became a Certified Music & Memory Organization and implemented the program last November.  The decision to participate stemmed from a compelling video clip from Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory, of an Alzheimer’s patient named Henry who “reawakened” by listening to his Cab Callaway favorites from his youth.  With the prevalence of Alzheimer’s in the United States and the increase of residents with dementia at the MNRC, it was hopeful that this program could make a difference in caring for those residents who had withdrawn into themselves.

     The hardest part of the implementation has been tracking down personalized music for each resident.  Families have been working with staff to try to refine the artists and songs to be the most intimate and familiar mix for their loved ones.  This has proved to be more difficult than expected since a good deal of the older generation grew up in a time well before the invention of electronic playlists.  However, the residents whose playlists were easier to provide, and who have had earlier access to the IPods and personalized music, have certainly shown a keen enjoyment of the program, and though the program is still in its early stages, with luck, the MNRC staff will be able to witness even more changes in those they serve in the future.


For more information on the Music & Memory program; visit www.musicandmemory.org

For more information on the Memorial Nursing & Rehabilitation Center; visit www.memorialnursinghome.com or call (806) 935-6500