SAIT 100 project: Music and memory

We have all heard that music is the language of the universe. This is because it transcends the limitations of words; everyone can understand it and feel it.

Music evokes emotion and has the ability to remind us of a favourite summer or a first love.

The impact of music is even larger in the lives of those suffering from dementia. Music can access deep memories that have not been lost to dementia, enabling participants to stay present, socialize, and feel like themselves again.

12788321_10154026895127049_123039534_oDanielle Temple, a second-year student in the health information management program, is organizing a SAIT100 project to collect iPod donations for the Alzheimer Society of Calgary to help kick off their Music and
Memory program.

“With Alzheimer’s and dementia, people really do lose themselves,” said Temple.

“They lose the ability to connect with the outside world and their loved ones, and they’re just trapped inside their bodies with no means of communication.

“Through this Music and Memory experience, they’ve determined that music reaches people suffering with dementia in a way that regular communication or activities can’t.”

Our brains are hard-wired to connect music with long-term memory, and store these memories in parts of the brain that are the last to be affected by dementia.

“Even someone who is suffering from the end stages of the disease can be enriched by this Music and Memory experience,” said Temple.

The Music and Memory organization trains elder care professionals and caregivers to create personalized iPod playlists to help individuals suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and  to reconnect with the world through
music-triggered memories.

Temple had learned about Music and Memory after her father was diagnosed with dementia. She became interested in learning about the disease and discovered Alive Inside, a documentary about the organization and benefits of music therapy for dementia patients.

The Alzheimer Society of Calgary is currently receiving certification to become providers of this service. Temple is hoping to provide them with iPods once the service is implemented in Calgary’s aged care facilities.

Collections for a Music and Memory iPod donation drive will occur this week from March 14 to 18. Students can drop off gently used iPods and chargers at the SAIT library during regular operating hours.

Throughout the week, Temple also plans to have various locations on campus where students can drop off iPods and learn more about the program.

Although the iPod shuffle is the best model because of its size and ability to clip-on to a pocket or lapel, any model of iPod is appreciated.

“Even one iPod is going to be a success,” I’d like to see many, many more, of course, but even just to get one person to realize this is important and to try to make a difference would be a success, said Temple.”

“This cause is something I feel doesn’t get enough consideration. Dementia is just as debilitating and affects as many lives as other diseases do, but it’s kind of been in the background and I want people to see that it is devastating and it is life changing, but we can make a difference.”

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