January 17, 2014
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683

State Department of Health Services Announces New Programs to Aid People With Alzheimer's Disease or Related Dementias

100 Wisconsin nursing homes now certified to assist residents in the Wisconsin Music and Memory Initiative

MADISON-Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades today announced that 100 nursing homes around the state have been certified to take part in a new project that uses personalized music to assist residents with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias.

The Wisconsin Music and Memory Initiative is part of a national program developed to train nursing home staff to create personalized music playlists for up to 15 residents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia. By listening to their favorite songs, residents are able to recall memories that haven't been lost to their disease. This has an uplifting affect that improves their spirits, and allows them to be responsive, cooperative, and engaged with family, friends, staff and other community members.

"Increasing a person's ability to positively interact with others through the power of music is really priceless," said Secretary Rhoades. "We are gratified that so many of the nursing homes across the state want to participate in what we believe is a landmark program in the treatment of people with dementia."

DHS hosts monthly support sessions for nursing homes to discuss successes and solve challenges. Nursing homes will also participate in a research study to measure the effectiveness of the program. The results of the study will be used for future planning.

Music and Memory founder Dan Cohen, MSW, used thorough neuroscience research to create the program which has been shown to enhance the lives of residents with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias by:

  •  Reducing the reliance on anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety medication
  •  Reducing agitation and "sun-downing"
  •  Enhancing engagement and socialization, in turn fostering a calmer social environment
  •  Increasing pleasure to persons with dementia
  •  Increasing cooperation and attention of patients
  •  Boosting staff morale by reducing the resistance to care
  •  Increasing fulfilling engagements among the residents, staff, family, friends, and their community.

Music and Memory is already highly regarded for its impact on people with Alzheimer's disease or other related dementia. A film chronicling Cohen's discovery of the power of personalized music, Alive Inside, directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett, has been selected to debut at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

DHS plans to expand The Wisconsin Music & Memory Initiative this spring to include an additional 135 nursing homes in the project.

For additional information about the DHS Music & Memory Initiative, go to:

For the list of Wisconsin nursing homes participating in the Music & Memory Initiative, go to: