Our first goal is to work with you to create a “personal playlist” of music that evokes positive emotions and memories for your loved one. Your help in creating this playlist is critical! What kind of music and what particular songs or artists does he/she love? Does he love R&B, Country, Gospel, Blues, Rock & Roll or classical? Is she a fan of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley or the Beatles? What kind of music would he have playing on the radio while he was driving? What was the popular music she listened to when she was a teenager and young adult?
If your loved one still has cognitive ability and recall, you can initiate a conversation about music in general and see what comes up. Then, be more specific, with questions like; “What music/band did you like back in your high school days?”… “Remember your wedding, and the song you two danced to?”… “ Take notes from the conversation. The songs suggested will become the nucleus of a playlist.
If it’s hard to have a direct conversation, you can ask friends or relatives who’ve known your loved one over the years. In addition, we have listings of the top 100 popuar songs by year, starting in 1940. One idea is to look at the popular music when your loved one was 18 years old. Most people love the music from this time in their lives. We have this information and can help you with it.
You’ll find suggestions of music categories on our application form.
Once we’ve assembled the playlist (about 70 songs), the music gets loaded onto the iPod. We then set up an appointment to visit your loved one. At that appointment, we’ll orient them and/or their caregivers to the music player and headset. We encourage family members to be present when their loved one gets fitted with their personal music. It’s always wonderful to see their response to the music!
About three weeks after your loved one receives their music, you’ll hear from us. We want to check in with you about the impact the personalized music is having on them. We also want to hear any feedback you have for the Alzheimer’s Music Project.
The Alzheimer’s Music Project relies on grants and individual donations to offer this service. If you are inspired by our work and want to help others receive personalized music, please click the “How to Contribute” tab above.
Online Application Form
~used with permission~
Yesterday I finally had the time and place for my sister Mary to listen the playlist you put together for her. Watching her was the most amazing thing I have seen in a long time. I put on the ear phones on her to listen to Fats Domino and it was as if someone flipped a light switch. I haven’t seen her that animated in years. She jumped up and began to dance! The music tapped into someplace she hasn’t visited in a long time. She just loved it but it opened up conversation in a way that was very different. She began to reminisce and talk about when she lived in Boston before she was married. Our conversation suddenly had a flow that hasn’t been there in a long time.
You are doing wonderful work Peter. Thank you so much for this lovely gift. It is deeply appreciated on so many levels.
All the best to you and your family,
From the Executive Director's Diary
October 26, 2015
"I left Pelham en-route to an at-home Alzheimer's patient in Haverhill, MA, a 2hr drive. Arrived @11am. Intros made. Both Mother and daughter share the same first name. Ellen (Mother) has just entered late-stage Alzheimers. Her speech has been affected. Spends most days at kitchen table, somewhat inert, and non-expressive or vocal, reading the words on the printed tablecloth for hours. Daughter Ellen is her primary caregiver.
I gave a quick tutorial on the iPod w/daughter, Ellen .
When it was time to place the headphones on, I cued-up Smokey Robinson (a favorite of hers) and put the headphones on. Her mother's eyes began to light up, and within a few seconds she was humming and clapping her hands. A smile was on her face and she was joyful! It was wonderful to witness. This went on for several minutes, when the music switched to "As Time Goes By" ... tears welled in her mom's eyes, her daughter had tears of joy in her's as she witnessed the 'quickening' effect that music can have. Then, Earth,Wind and Fire's "Fantasy" came on. "I haven't seen her like this in so long", her daughter said, smiling. Her mom was engaged. Laughing. Clapping. Conversational. Aware. And all it took was her favorite music to flip the switch.
After a half-hour or so, I said my goodbyes and got in the car and started to drive away - then realized I left computer-bag in the kitchen. I went back and was met at the door ... in the background, Ellen was dancing! Her daughter and I exchanged a "WOW" look. She handed me my bag and as I stood at the door to give one last look-back, Ellen's mom silently worded, "thank you." I closed the door behind me as tears came to my eyes."