TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Capstone Village at The University of Alabama is the first Music & Memory certified retirement facility in the Tuscaloosa area, program leaders announced Friday.
Music & Memory Tuscaloosa, a UA student chapter of the national Music & Memory organization, is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of Alzheimer’s patients in Tuscaloosa to improve the quality of their lives.
Tradition’s Way, the Alzheimer’s care unit of Capstone Village, received more than $1,500 in donations to train caregivers and purchase Bluetooth players, headphones, waterproof speakers, chargers and iTunes gift cards. The program aims to create an environment that combats anxiety, depression, sundowning, memory loss and other symptoms associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Sixteen Capstone Village residents will participate in the program.
“We are thrilled to be able to make such an impact on our community,” said Sarah Beth Loper, UA junior and president of Music & Memory Tuscaloosa. “We are making a huge contribution to innovative, holistic medicine by giving patients independence and peace through their favorite music.”
Music helps dementia patients recall memories and emotions, and the engaging nature of singing along to music sparks activity in both hemispheres of the brain, according to a 2013 study by researchers at George Mason University.
According to Music & Memory’s web site, its personalized music program has been field-tested in thousands of care settings throughout the U.S. and around the world. Certified organizations will receive best practices training, peer-to-peer advice and support, and resources such as policies and procedures to evaluation tools and forms.
“We are so excited to be the first community in the Tuscaloosa area to offer Music & Memory,” said Veranda K. Melton, director of health services and administrator at Capstone Village. “This program will provide another non-pharmacological tool in managing the care for cognitive impaired individuals. We currently offer music therapy in partnership with The University of Alabama School of Music, and this certification will allow us to expand on this greatly, in addition to extending opportunities for families, staff and residents to connect on new levels.
Dan Cohen, executive director of Music & Memory, laid the groundwork for the program in 2006, during the rise of iPods and personal MP3 players. Cohen wanted to be able to listen to his favorite 1960s music if he lived in a retirement home, so he created a pilot program in New York, creating personalized playlists with the residents. He later secured funding and grew the program, ultimately earning non-profit status in 2010.
Music & Memory Tuscaloosa has 23 active members at The University of Alabama. The group aims to help other Tuscaloosa-area retirement facilities achieve certification. Members accept donations of iPods/MP3 players and iTunes gift cards. The group can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It is an absolute honor getting to work with Capstone Village and the amazing staff at the Alzheimer’s care unit, Tradition’s Way,” Loper said. “Capstone Village has become a trademark to the University through its unmatched compassion and quality of care for their residents, and I am excited to see the increase of value and hospice care that we will bring through the Music & Memory program.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.