Music and Memory program at Vienna Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Music & Memory program reawakens the past for our Vienna residents

Vienna recently introduced the Music & Memory program to improve the quality of life for our residents and patients. We’ve already seen results that are nothing short of awe inspiring.

For this program, we sit down with residents and their family members to find out what type of music the person enjoyed in their youth. We all know music holds a special place in our hearts, and many songs we hear can take us back to old memories. Our goal is to find songs that "reawaken" residents back to their former selves.

Here are some wonderful examples:

  • A woman with severe Alzheimer's was constantly agitated. Once we identified the music she enjoys, it has been a night and day difference. She enjoys gospel music and once the music goes on, she can be found singing in the halls (she has a beautiful voice), or sitting calmly in meditation smiling. Having her calmer and happier has made a big difference for care staff, and her family has noticed a positive change in her mood as well. After having done this program with her for about two months, she even requests music in the mornings.
  • The music has done a lot to calm another woman’s anxiety. She'll sit for a couple of hours at a time listening to her music, composed of mostly Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn. We've noticed a big change in her relationships with other residents, especially her roommate. Both of the women enjoy the same type of music, and it's been really special to watch them sharing the music and bonding.
  • Another resident is a big polka fan and used to love dancing. In recent years however he's been much more sedentary and mellow. He was listening to the music today and began tapping his toes, waving his arms and dancing (from his chair) with one of the volunteers. It was really sweet, and as his wife observed, the music "brought him back to life."

We’ve experienced non-vocal residents who speak and sing. Other residents who are generally quiet and reserved, smile and break into song and dance. This program has taken residents who are constantly anxious and moved them into a happy, calm state, and helped to improve the relationships of many other residents with their families, friends and caregivers.

These are some of the benefits the Music & Memory program can bring to families, specifically those struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other neurological disorders. Grounded in research about how the brain responds to music, the program can engage those who will have the opportunity to benefit from the therapeutic potential of music to tap deep memories and reconnect with the world.

Vienna believes all people, no matter what age, should live meaningful lives. Connecting someone to the music they once loved is just one way we can provide a happy, more meaningful life experience.