University of Alabama students launch Music & Memory program for Alzheimer’s patients

University of Alabama students launch Music & Memory program for Alzheimer’s patients
Sarah Beth Loper, a University of Alabama junior and president of Music & Memory Tuscaloosa, talks about the program recently established at Capstone Village. (University of Alabama)

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

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 nonprofit 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.

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. (University of Alabama)

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 website, 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 evaluation tools.

“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 uses personalized music to help combat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia. (University of Alabama)

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 [email protected].

“It is an absolute honor getting to work with Capstone Village and the amazing staff at the Alzheimer’s care unit, Tradition’s Way,” said Sarah Beth Loper, UA junior and president of Music & Memory Tuscaloosa. “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.”

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

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