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Experience Emotions with the Alzheimer Society Music Project

There is something about music

that brings up different emotions even when memories are no longer remembered. For 6 years, the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto has vowed to distribute 10 000 music players in hopes to bring joy to those with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Inspired by an American documentary entitled, “Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory”, comes the Music Project.

Though I can imagine there are statistics and research proving the value music has on those with cognitive impairment, it is best understood when witnessed first hand. To those who have loved ones diagnosed with dementia you understand how they may not be the same person you have grown to know. They may be not as hygienic as they use to be, or they may even have developed some responsive behaviours.

The Music Project Coordinator, Nadia Aftab, shares a quote from a spouse of a person with dementia, “Alzheimer’s is a heartbreaking disease and it is such a relief to be able to penetrate the darkness with the joy that music brings”. There are the special qualities of music that makes it pleasant to listen to. However, there is something personable about familiar sounds that may evoke positive emotions or memories.

On the outside, an individual may be able to see the effects music has on their loved ones by the way they smile or engage with others. But even more subtle changes like a calmer demeanor or less restlessness is still a great step towards psychosocial wellness.

Supporting families across Ontario, The Alzheimer Society of Toronto has been connecting with 80 to 100 people a month through the Music Project. At no charge, participants get a customized playlist of 150 to 200 songs with the help of volunteers. There are popular genres that are frequently requested including jazz, classical and swing. However, Aftab explains, “ I personally also like to always emphasize that we have all kinds of music available, including music from different cultures and even religious soundtracks. I encourage everyone to apply and give the program a try”.

With approximately 25 000 people newly diagnosed with dementia every year (as cited on Alzheimer Society Canada, 2018), the number of individuals who would benefit from this program is also growing.





Note: 1. Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto is located in Toronto, Ontario. (Canada)

2. Discovered through a Kickstarter Campaign. 


  1. kage2015 kage2015

    This is a terrible disease and has affected most families I know, including our family.

    • it really is hard to deal with it, for both the person and their loved ones. hope you get all the support you need.

  2. KeshiaRichmond KeshiaRichmond

    Music is a beautiful thing and when can help people remember special thoughts, feelings, and sentiments it brings added benefits.

  3. Colleen Colleen

    It’s truly amazing the effect music can have on a person. My grandmother died from Alzheimer’s several years ago and it was tough to watch the disease take her. But my brother is an accomplished musician and you could definitely see a difference whenever she got to hear him play.

    • absolutely love that. one of the questions i sometimes get from families is, “What can I do?”. being able to share a talent or interest is a great way to connect like you said.

  4. Blairvillanueva Blairvillanueva

    Music is proven that gives means to bring back memories. I think it applies even for those who have no alzheirmer.

  5. Aaawww….this is so nice! With music in play, I can assure you that “it will hurt less and lesser as the days go by”. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this post. My grandfather and grandmom both had Alzheimer’s but at a later stage in their lives. It’s one difficult disease to battle, our only consolation was they never had to experience it for a long time. Honestly, seeing and remembering what my grandfolks had to go through, I am now at a loss for words. It was just too sad.

    • it really is something difficult to watch. i hope you have a solid support system or people you feel comfortable on leaning on.

  7. Gina Shirley Gina Shirley

    This is an outstanding program. Music is truly something that touches almost every one.

  8. elizabeth o elizabeth o

    It is a disease that can truly test every bit of strength we have. It is vital information for all.

  9. You need to take part in a contest for one of the most useful websites on the net. I am going to highly recommend this site!

  10. An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you should write more about this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but typically folks dont speak about these subjects. To the next! Kind regards!!

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