UA Students Launch Music & Memory Program for Alzheimer’s Patients

Remember the song that always brings smile to your face? You know the one that reminds you of good feelings and good times? Well, you aren’t the only one.

Sarah Beth Loper, UA junior and president of Music & Memory Tuscaloosa (middle), presents a check to Capstone Village’s Veranda K. Melton, director of health services and administrator, and Troy Cannaday, executive director, to start the facility’s certified Music & Memory program.

Now, Alzheimer’s patients at Capstone Village at The University of Alabama can recall special moments via a new program called Music & Memory Tuscaloosa. Capstone Village is the first Music & Memory certified retirement facility in the Tuscaloosa area.

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.

Music & Memory uses personalized music to help combat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“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.

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 musicandmemorytuscaloosa@gmail.com.

“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.