The Use of Individually Programmed Ipods for People with Dementia

Woman Listening to MP3 Player
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Why Music?

Multiple research studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of music on both the emotional and behavioral symptoms of dementia, as well as its ability to improve cognition in Alzheimer's disease.

Individualized Music on Ipods

One person took this thought about music and ran with it. Social worker Dan Cohen decided to try the idea of using ipods to play music for people in nursing homes. He began volunteering in 2006 and created personalized play lists on ipods for nursing home residents based on their interests and favorite songs.

He found that residents, staff members and families alike all responded positively, and rather than isolate the residents, the music encouraged interaction with others.

One of the resident's responses to hearing his own music- as opposed to a "one-size-fits-all" approach to music- was videoed and demonstrates a dramatically positive response. (You can view this video here: Music and Memory.)

Music as a Way to Improve Quality of Life

As family members, friends and professionals who care for those with dementia, we need to recognize that music is an often untapped and valuable resource. We are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of life in dementia, and music is one way we can do this without the potential side effects of medications.

Remember that it may take more than just turning on the radio for a patient or a loved one. You may need to search for their favorite music from long ago and make your own recordings for them.

You can also choose to raise awareness by sharing with others how beneficial the right selection of music can be for someone with dementia.


Music and Memory. Our mission and vision. Accessed April 25, 2014.

Music and Memory. Research.

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