Since its inception, Music & Memory has provided more than 60,000 iPods to people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive or physical conditions.
But the Long Island-based nonprofit’s work goes much deeper than the devices it provides to patients in more than 4,400 certified facilities in the U.S. and 10 other countries in an effort to make music therapy an industry standard.
Music & Memory founder Dan Cohen recalled a man in a nursing home who was always very agitated and would curse at staff and knock away his food and drinks.
“He was not able to articulate what music he liked – there was no family they had access to – but they knew he was a veteran,” he said. “They made up a playlist of patriotic songs, and he just snapped to attention and started humming songs. It immediately changed the whole issue of him being a bit cantankerous.”
Through Aug. 19, Broadway is holding its sixth annual Alzheimer’s iPod Drive for Music & Memory. Drop-off locations are at Caring Kind (360 Lexington Ave., 4th floor) and AFM Local 802 (322 W. 48th St.). Monetary donations and iTunes cards can be mailed to Music & Memory Donations, 142 Emory Road, Mineola, NY, 11501.
“Because music is really connected to emotions, and our emotional system is very much in tact, it helps maintain a sense of self, our identity,” Cohen said. “It helps connect with our memories – it helps keep us alive, in a sense.”
And what was the last song that Cohen listened to?
“I’ve got to go to my phone and look because my memory doesn’t tell me,” he said with a laugh. “But it was ‘Blackbird’ by Paul McCartney.”