Dementia patients often remember the distant past better than they do the present. Cherished memories of long ago become all the more important in later years. Studio Meinick has designed a Music Memory Box in which to store treasured reminiscences and bring the past to life for dementia patients.

Reminiscence Therapy is recognized as beneficial to dementia patients. It involves a therapist or other person who help dementia patients reminisce about life. Sometimes photos or mementos are used to help the patients reflect and tell stories about his or her life.

Remembering life and the people and events in it is therapeutic for persons fighting the neurodegeneration of dementia. Dementia is a mental world in which everything can seem strange and disorienting. Revisiting memories, especially with a therapist listening attentively, is emotionally reinforcing for dementia patients, who may be suffering in self-image because they are unable to perform ordinary tasks of life any longer.

Combining reminiscence and music therapy for dementia patients

The Music Memory Box combines reminiscence therapy with music. Hearing is one of the last faculties that leaves elderly persons. Research by Simmons-Stern, Budson, Ally and others has shown that musical understanding is also one of the last mental features to deteriorate. Linda Maguire, a former opera singer, noticed that agitated dementia patients became calm when music was introduced into a ward. They even sang along with perfect recall of the lyrics to famous songs. Combining reminiscence and music therapy forms a powerful combination in the Music Memory Box and helps dementia patients.

Music calms agitation, lifts the spirit, connects people to each other, and soothes the savage beast of aggression. It helps dementia patients de-stress. Gottfried Schlaug, a Harvard associate professor of neurology, says music gives the brain a workout and activates neural pathways.

A Music Memory Box is a receptacle for memorabilia and memories contained in the box, which can be attached to music. When an object is moved to the center of the box, the music attached to it plays. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology makes this possible.

The music attached to the object is chosen in advance by the dementia patient. The music has special meaning to the patient in relation to the memento that is being observed.

Origins and direction of the Music Memory Box

Studio Meineck's Founding Director, Chloe Meineck, conceived of the idea of the Music Memory Box when saw how music transformed the quality of life and happiness of an elderly loved one with dementia. The design of the Music Memory Box helped Meineck become a finalist in the National Dementia Care awards of 2015. The Music Memory Box was deemed one of the most innovative products that year.

The Music Memory Box is equipped with eight RFID stickers, allowing eight objects to be attached to music upon purchase. More can be purchased later. Attaching the music to a memento is not difficult and is mainly a matter of uploading music files onto a USB stick, which is then inserted into the Music Memory Box triggering instructions on how to proceed.

Music Memory Boxes are not yet on the market. Meineck intends to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in March 2017 and use the funding to manufacture the first run of the Boxes.

Interested persons should look for the launch in March 2017 and stay informed at www.studiomeineck.com/music-memory-box/. Subscribing to the company's newsletter will keep one abreast of developments. Meineck promises rewards for those who give donations, including serving as test cases in use of the box and for being one of the first to receive a box.

Sources

Klever, Sandy. (April 2013). Reminiscence therapy: Finding meaning in memories. Nursing, 43(4): 36-37. Available online at http://journals.lww.com/nursing/Fulltext/2013/04000/Reminiscence_therapy__Finding_meaning_in_memories.11.aspx. Retrieved 1/25/2017.

Maguire, L.E., Wamchsura, P.B., Battaglia, M.M., Howell, S.N., Flinn, J.M. (2015). Participation in active singing leads to cognitive improvements in individuals with dementia. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 63(4):815-6. Doi: 10.1111/jgs.13366.

Milner, Conan. (November 26, 2015). Opera Singer Turned Neuroscientist Uses Music as Medicine for Dementia, Autism, and more. Epoch Times. Available online at http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1905111-opera-singer-turned-neuroscientist-uses-music-as-medicine-for-dementia-autism-and-more/. Retrieved 1/26/2017.

Studio Meineck. http://www.studiomeineck.com/music-memory-box/. Retrieved 01/25/2017.

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