Music and Memory

In 2015, the Quality Monitoring Program (QMP) initiated a variety of innovative interventions to reduce the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medication in nursing facilities. Among the most successful interventions was the Music & Memory program, which provides nursing facilities the tools to create individualized music playlists for their residents.

Research has shown the positive effects music can have on people with dementia and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Music can improve their ability to connect with people, decrease distressed behaviors and improve their quality of life.

Watch “A Story of Hope” video showing the positive effects of the Music & Memory program.

What is the Music & Memory Program?

Music & Memory trains nursing facility staff in using music-playing devices to create personalized playlists for those in their care.

The program uses music instead of drugs and medications to manage the mood and behaviors commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Personalized playlists can help by:

  • Increasing memory and recall.
  • Reducing pain, falls, anxiety and depression.
  • Improving mood and connections.
  • Increasing engagement and socialization.

Intergenerational Opportunities with Music & Memory

Creating personalized playlists can foster connections and empathy between different generations.

Nursing facilities participating in the Music & Memory program have brought in volunteers to assist with helping create playlists and interacting with clients. Many facilities partnered with local high schools to find student volunteers. Through the program, both patients and volunteers were able to better understand and see the value of different generations.

High school students who are part of Health Occupations Student Organizations (HOSA) have volunteered for the Music & Memory program. QMP clinical staff have trained these students across the state about dementia and Music & Memory.

Music & Memory Expansion

While QMP provided the Music & Memory program in nursing facilities, staff at supported living centers and state hospitals have also implemented the program.

The Austin State Supported Living Center adapted the Music & Memory program to meet the needs of people with IDD, mental illness or both.

Through a grant from Money Follows the Person, the Austin State Hospital adapted a pilot Music & Memory program for adult clients with serious mental illness who were transitioning back to their communities. Within the first few months of implementing the program, time off unit for clients with serious mental illness increased to 97% overall (from 38 to 75 collective hours per week.) As the pilot progressed, the average time off unit was 90% per week. For more information, contact the Music & Memory Pilot program.

Music & Memory Resources

For more information, including research and resources, visit the Music & Memory research page

For Texas research data, read the Music & Memory Effects on Nursing Facility Residents Evaluation Report (PDF) from phases one through three.

Find out about how to bring Music & Memory to your facility or contact Stephanie Hoffman, consulting advisor.

Email the Quality Monitoring Program with any questions.