Music for Alzheimer’s residents lifts morale, evokes memories

Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) Women’s Music Fraternity at UTSA is using their passion for music to enhance the lives of Alzheimer’s patients.

President of UTSA’s SAI chapter Samantha Serrano explains, “We saw the documentary Alive Inside and learned about Music and Memory… We were all in shock and thought we need to do something about this.”

After seeing the documentary where Dan Cohen, founder of Music and Memory, demonstrates how music can be used to revive the lives of memory care patients, SAI began to raise money to donate to a memory care facility.

SAI held a fundraiser and started a GoFundMe page to raise the $1000 necessary for a memory care facility to get certified by Music and Memory. With the donation, Music and Memory provides the facility with 5 iPods, headphones and certification training. Morning Side Ministries at Mender Springs was the first assisted living facility to receive funds from SAI.

Monty Draney, the Director of Resident Services at Morning Side Ministries at Mender Springs, explains, “ We started out with a test program with 5 people… “ Now, many of the residents are using the program, and “we are implementing it at least everyday.”

The music that the residents listen to is selected based on the music of their youth.

“The music of their youth is very important to them. It helped shape memories and who they were, “ Draney explains.

Activities Assistant Andrew Bennett who is in charge of creating the playlists of the residents states, “I’m constantly updating the playlists. If they don’t like it, I don’t play it.”

So far, Music and Memory has had a dramatic affect on the lives of the memory care patients.

Draney recounts, “One of our ladies would sit in her room… She would just hold a baby doll and mumble a little bit, but now she is walking around, she is articulating more, and she is able to help us out with projects.”

SAI at UTSA won a National Collegiate Service Award for this project, and they are still working hard to provide funds to other assisted living facilities and to spread this project to other SAI chapters across the United States.

Serrano explains, “The biggest thing isn’t just us trying to get people certified, but we want this to be a national thing.”