Music & Memory project coming to Presbyterian Manors

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Few things are more personal than our musical tastes. Favorite songs trigger rich memories and influence our moods. That’s why social worker Dan Cohen launched an effort in 2008 to bring individualized music to residents in long-term care.

Cohen founded the nonprofit Music & Memory, which provides residents in long-term care with iPod personal music players that are loaded with each recipient’s favorite songs.

Kim Fanning, senior vice president education and training for Presbyterian Manors, said all of the PMMA communities are taking advantage of the opportunity. Training sessions for employees took place in July and the program will begin this fall.

“I have music I prefer, and so does everyone,” Fanning said. “It has the benefit of reducing aggressive behavior, improving mood and increasing socialization.”

The 40 Missouri communities, like Fulton Presbyterian Manor, that receive the program for free will also get starter kits with new and used iPods, headphones and iTunes gift cards. The other communities will build up their collections with fundraisers and donation drives, Fanning said. Then they will rely on volunteers to load each person’s chosen songs onto their music players.

“I see this as intergenerational opportunity and a good volunteer piece, because we have to sustain this program and customize playlists,” Fanning said. She said some Manor communities already are reaching out to residents in independent living to help other residents set up their players. And she thinks it would be a good opportunity for teens to earn community service credit for school.

In spite of its name, Fanning said the Music & Memory program isn’t limited to residents in memory care. Once enough players are available, any resident will be welcome to plug in and play the music they love best—whether that’s Beethoven, Count Basie or the Beatles.

To assist Fulton Presbyterian Manor with building up its supply of iPods, headphones and iTunes cards, contact Beth Boyd at 573-416-2531.