Health & Medicine

Got a used iPod? Music & Memory seeks donations to help dementia patients

Therapist Nicole Johnson connects an iPod Mini for Gloria Silcott to listen to in May 2016 at Eskaton in Sacramento.
Therapist Nicole Johnson connects an iPod Mini for Gloria Silcott to listen to in May 2016 at Eskaton in Sacramento.

Got a used iPod? A local concert promoter is collecting them for nursing homes and senior facilities, as part of the Music & Memory program that helps dementia and Alzheimer’s patients reconnect with their past by listening to favorite tunes.

“A lot of people have pushed their music onto their smartphone, and their iPods are in drawers somewhere,” said Forrest Reed, a volunteer fundraiser for Music & Memory. “They need to be recycled.”

He said he became interested in the program after discovering that listening to old Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra songs helped calm his aging mother, who recently died.

Reed has set up drop-off sites for old iPods at 13 locations, including Dimple Record stores and Sunrise Senior Living centers in Sacramento, Fair Oaks and Carmichael. Donations are being accepted through November.

On Saturday, he has also helped organize a concert featuring saxophonist Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers at The Grove at the Red Lion Hotel Woodlake, which is dedicating a portion of ticket sales to Music & Memory. All the proceeds and iPods collected will help equip California skilled nursing, assisted living, hospice and senior centers with iPods and headsets.

The nonprofit Music & Memory, started in 2010 by New York social worker Dan Cohen, is based on research by UC Davis and other institutions showing the musical-memory part of the brain is one of the last to atrophy in Alzheimer’s patients. For the last six years, Cohen has helped thousands of senior facilities nationwide provide their patients with a personalized play list of favorite songs, whether it’s blues, country or rock ’n’ roll.

In a pilot project underway in hundreds of California skilled nursing homes, including a handful in Sacramento, staffers say the music soothes agitated patients and can comfort those who are otherwise isolated by their dementia or Alzheimer’s. It also can be a boon to family members who otherwise can’t converse or elicit a response from loved ones afflicted with memory loss.

For more details, contact Reed at

Claudia Buck: 916-321-1968, @Claudia_Buck