August 28, 2017

Innovative Music Program Creates Connections for Memory Care Residents

Memory & Brain Health, Senior Health & Wellness

Maybe you’ve seen it: People with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia connecting with others through the power of music. It happens because music lights up many parts of the brain, triggering an emotional response from the listener.


An innovative program, called Music & Memory, enables people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia to communicate using music, even once the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.


“The music we love is very much tied to our emotional system,” says Dan Cohen, founder and executive director of Music & Memory. “Our emotional system is intact; that’s what we are connecting to, and what still works for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”


Only five percent of senior living communities in the U.S. offer the Music & Memory program. At Era Living, we believe wider adoption of Music & Memory will enhance the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.


The Gardens at Town Square Earns Music & Memory Grant

We are proud to announce that our Bellevue community, The Gardens at Town Square, will offer the Music & Memory program in The Terrace, the memory care unit, this October.


“Music & Memory offers great promise, with no downside, for our residents living with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” says The Gardens at Town Square Executive Director, Apryl Tolstoy. “Through the program, our residents can share powerful moments with their family members, and with care providers who always aim to enhance their lives.”


The Gardens at Town Square is the only senior living community in King County to be awarded a first-time grant from the Washington Foundation for Long Term Care. The grant funds Music & Memory training for staff, and the purchase of audio equipment.


“When we learned about Music & Memory, we knew it was a program that needed to be in Washington senior care communities as soon as possible,” says President and CEO Robin Dale of the Washington Health Care Association, the parent organization of the Washington Foundation for Long Term Care. “There was high demand for program adoption, and we are really looking to The Gardens at Town Square to demonstrate the value and show how we can make a difference in the lives of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

Through the grant, The Gardens at Town Square has access to virtual training for a full year, and retains all of the equipment for Music & Memory indefinitely.


Era Living Approach to Memory Care

Era Living is known for its innovative partnerships with leaders in health care and scientific research.


“People with dementia continue to respond to music, especially familiar songs. Music connects us heart to heart, not through our heads,” says UW geriatrician Dr. Lee Burnside, whose research explores dementia and the creative arts.


In addition to access to the Music & Memory program at The Gardens at Town Square, all eight Seattle-area Era Living communities offer Memory Fitness, a program designed to help people with early stage Alzheimer’s and dementia maintain brain health, emotional well-being and physical fitness. Era Living communities are affiliated with the UW Medicine Memory and Brain Wellness Center, the University of Washington School of Nursing, and the University of Washington School of Pharmacy.