The Alzheimer Society of Toronto’s Music Project was started because of the incredible research that listening to music offers big benefits for people living with dementia. Lee Bartel, professor emeritus at University of Toronto’s faculty of music, notes, “Music has a real potent effect on people’s brains, establishing identities, triggering memories, pleasure and passion, and has a very calming effect when people with Alzheimer’s become agitated or aggressive.”
The best part of the Music Project? The iPods and playlists are given to those who qualify for free.
To qualify, the iPod recipient must have dementia, live in Toronto, and be willing to receive a phone call from the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. Benefits of music include everything from more communication, to slowing down the disease, to at the very least, soothing people with dementia.
Unfortunately, there are hurdles. According to the Toronto Star, not enough patients are participating in the service or worse, staff are too busy to help the patients take advantage. The music project wanted to give out ten thousand iPods over three years, but unfortunately, they’ve done half that and it’s been five years and counting.
It’s incredible to watch their video below and hear first-hand how the program has changed lives.
The Toronto program is based around New York’s Music & Memory program, which kicked off in 2010. If you’re interested in helping, donating iPods, or just finding out more about it, check out the links below.
Fun Fact: According to Cathy Barrick, Toronto chapter president, the most requested song is “The Hills are Alive” from The Sound of Music.
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