Music & Memory, music as medicine

by Manon Bruinsma
With the help of a headphone, an MP3player and a personalised playlist, it is possible to give older people access to the musical favorites of their past. The relaxing and comforting aspect of your own favorite music takes away anxiety and lessens depression and apathy. For those older people stuck in a culture and society that is not the one they grew up in this becomes even a larger gift to give. The headphones drown out noise and hand back a personal space, wherever a person is, walking, lying down or in a group. Hearing the songs of their youth, songs they have sometimes not heard for decades, touches older people from all places and backgrounds and gives them back their identity. If you take the effort to do ‘musical detective’ work and create such a personal playlist (of at least 50 -100 songs) you have a tool to help combat the overuse of medication, the lack of communication and increase understanding and respect of an individuals’ life. Music & Memory has given me as a music therapist the chance to reach large numbers of older people across Europe. We specialize in educating care teams on how to make music in daily care, 24/7 possible. It was my pleasure to share stories about this intervention with ENIEC members in Bristol! If you would like to see some examples of how Music & Memory works, please watch this video on the use of personalized music in home care, and the video on Henry.

Manon Bruinsma

You can access her presentation here.