Aging Well Explores Music Therapy and Dementia

A new program that uses music to help dementia patients reconnect with the outside world was recently featured on Aging Well, a monthly public-access production of Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES).

The discussion was led by SCES Music & MemorySM coordinator Rory Silvia and Mental Health Social Worker Cassie Cramer.

Silvia described Music & MemorySM as a specialized form of music therapy, which uses tailored playlists to trigger memories and improve quality of life for people with dementia.

“There have been studies that show our brains are hard-wired to connect music with long-term memory,” said Silvia. “Music or songs that have an association with a personal event can linger in a person’s mind and reconnect them with that moment if they hear the song again.”

Founded in 2008, Music & MemorySM is a non-profit organization that has trained more than 3,000 organizations worldwide on how to use the program.

SCES received Music & MemorySM accreditation in late 2016, after securing a grant to launch the program.

Available free-of-charge to anybody who receives SCES services, the program provides each participant with an iPod and personalized playlist, along with guidance and support from SCES staff.

Silvia added that SCES’s implementation is unique, in that it is provided in-home, with the goal of training friends or family to help the participant utilize the program on an ongoing basis.

Aging Well is a monthly production of SCES, which is produced in partnership with the Somerville Media Center (previously known as Somerville Cable Access Television or SCAT).

Aging Well airs on SCATV Channel 3 at the following times:
• Sundays at 10am
• Mondays at 7:30am
• Tuesdays at 1pm.

Episodes are also available through the SCES YouTube channel.

SCES is a non-profit agency that supports the independence and well-being of older people in Somerville and Cambridge. For more information, visit, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601 for free advice and guidance.