The Health Services Center Music & Memory Program

Just the right music has the power to reach through to people profoundly isolated by cognitive impairments, dementia, and other serious health trauma. Pilgrim Place is now affiliated with the national network ( that trains caregivers to set up personalized music playlists on iPods and MP3 players. This music therapy taps into deep memories not lost to dementia, and can enable otherwise withdrawn people to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize, and stay present.  Carefully selected music does not just soothe people; it can enable them to reclaim their earlier, healthier selves.

HSC resident Rhodes Thompson certainly thinks so: “It makes happy.  It makes me feel alive again!” When he and his wife Lois first listened to their Music & Memory MP3 player, his music carried them back to the jitterbug competitions of their early lives together. Glenn Miller Orchestra’s “In The Mood” put him right in touch with his younger dancing self, even while his older self sat on the couch at the Health Services Center nurses station and kept tapping toes and snapping fingers to the beat.  “It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Rhodes, “It’s really something doing inside me…. Turn it up a little.”

For further information, watch the 3-minute trailer that introduces the “Alive Inside” program:  The Pilgrim Place Music & Memory Program is unique, in that it is resident-initiated and resident-driven.  To contribute to this effort (or to donate used iPod and MP3 players), contact


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