Senior Community Without Walls

Music & Memory Loss

Posted On 03/06/2017

My mother has had Alzheimer's for a number of years, and sometimes her memory loss makes it very difficult to connect with her. Some days she doesn't  seem to even recognize me. I don't expect a miracle, but is there any way I can trigger some of her memory to make her feel more like herself and maybe even connect with her again?


First, I am so sorry you and your family are experiencing this. Memory loss in a loved one is something we see every day, and it affects every family differently. I commend you for seeking a new way to try to tap into your mother's memory and bring her some joy through human connection. 

One of the somewhat new innovations we've encountered is offered by a non-profit organization called Music & Memory. What they do is collect used music playing devices, load personalized playlists onto those devices based on what songs an individual enjoyed and what era(s) they lived through, and play that music for the individual, triggering memories that may have seemed long gone.

Have you ever listened to an old song, and suddenly felt as though you were transported back in time? You may have heard it and recalled vivid memories from that time - people, places, emotions - and felt a deep sense of nostalgia. That's because music, especially songs that we tie to personal experiences, triggers a broad neurological reaction when we hear it. In fact, one of the last parts of the brain that atrophies throughout Alzheimer's can still have a reaction to an old song! (See source here)

Although music is not a cure for Alzheimer's, you can see in the video below the reaction it can cause, awakening the soul of someone who seemed long gone. 

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