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Dementia & Music: Can Listening to One's Favorite Song Improve One's Memory?

Jon Strelecki

Can simply listening to one’s favorite songs improve memory, mood and quality of life for the 5 million people with dementia in the United States alone? 

Faculty and students at UWM are trying to answer this question in the nation’s largest and most comprehensive evaluation of the increasingly popular Music & Memory program.

The program uses personalized music playlists delivered on iPods to nursing home residents with dementia. With start-up funding from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the New-York-based program is being implemented with residents with dementia in 100 nursing homes in the state of Wisconsin. (The program has not been clinically evaluated.)

Jung Kwak, associate professor in the UWM Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, are testing if the Music and Memory program is as effective as the usual pharmacological treatments for dementia.

Tom Luljak hosted UWM Today on WUWM for more than two decades and is the inaugural host of Curious Campus.