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Music For The Ages

In 2014, LeadingAge Oklahoma Executive Director Mary Brinkley watched a short video clip of Henry, using the MUSIC & MEMORY program which inspired her to contact the founder, Dan Cohen.  The Alive Inside video shows the magic of personalized music has on a person with dementia.  Henry comes alive: begins to communicate with his family and shares memories previously locked-away as he expresses the joy he is feeling.

Later that year, Dan Cohen presented a keynote address at the LeadingAge Oklahoma annual conference and ignited the audience of over 450 senior care providers resulting in wide-spread interest in the program.

We immediately began working to bring MUSIC & MEMORY to Oklahoma.  A contract was initiated to write a grant for Oklahoma nursing homes to implement the MUSIC & MEMORY program.  LeadingAge Oklahoma also offers the program to other senior care providers as well.

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Oklahoma Music for the Ages a MUSIC & MEMORY℠ Program

LeadingAge Oklahoma is proud to offer the powerful benefits of personalized music through a grant from CMS/OSDH for Oklahoma nursing homes to improve quality of life for the elderly.

Grounded in extensive research, Music & Memory helps people living with a wide range of cognitive and physical challenges to find renewed joy in life through musical favorites. Your team is trained to develop personalized playlists, delivered through iPods, a key element in the individual’s plan of care. Music and Memory website.


  • Beloved music helps to reduce depression and anxiety and can also moderate pain.
  • Musical favorites tap deep memories and can improve quality of life.
  • Participants are happier, more social, and receptive to care and family visits.
  • It can help reduce reliance on anti-psychotic, anti-depressant, and pain medications.


  • Oklahoma nursing homes interested in improving quality of life for those they serve.
  • People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
  • People with chronic pain.


Program Details, Eligibility and Steps to Participation

LeadingAge Oklahoma has received a grant to implement Music and Memory programs in 100 nursing homes in Oklahoma. The grant covers all costs of participation, meaning this is a FREE opportunity to get Music and Memory certification and materials to begin this program.



Any Medicare and/or Medicaid nursing home in Oklahoma is eligible to participate in this grant. LeadingAge Oklahoma membership is not a requirement. 

Exceptions: Hospital-based long term care beds and nursing homes with a primary focus on short stay residents are not eligible.

If your facility is not eligible to participate in the grant, you can still benefit from many of the resources and opportunities we are providing. See below for more information on Non-Grant Participants.


Steps to Participation

If you are eligible to participate in this grant, these are the steps to begin:

  1.  Contact us. Email to let us know you are interested.
  2.  Attend Orientation Webinar. After you have contacted us about your interest, you will be added to the distribution list to receive details about these webinars. Materials from past webinars are available on the Resources tab below.
  3.  Complete Participation Agreement. Following the webinar, if you decide to commit to this program, you will fill out and submit the Participation Agreement  and a $250 deposit. This deposit will be fully refunded at the end of the grant period, once all program requirements are met.
  4. Complete Music and Memory Certification Training. The cost of this training is covered by the grant funding. Your entire team must participate in all sessions of the training.
  5.  Receive Materials. Your iPods, headphones, iTunes gift card, and other materials will be mailed to you directly to begin implementation. These will be sent as soon as all Phase II Participants complete certification training.
  6. Begin implementation! Identify 20 residents that could benefit from this program, based on what you learned during certification. Use the Music Assessment Questionnaire, available from the Music and Memory website, to develop individualized playlists for these residents, and begin using the iPods and other materials as instructed during Music and Memory Certification Training.
  7. Stay in Touch! Throughout the grant period, LeadingAge Oklahoma will continue to provide you with resources and training opportunities. You will need to participate in our monthly webinars, focusing on effective implementation strategies. There will also be two in-person seminars, free to two members of your team. We will continue to post and email you additional information as it becomes available.
  8. Involve your community! In addition to educational resources, LeadingAge Oklahoma will provide you with tools, resources, and tips for fundraising efforts to expand and continue this program beyond the grant period, as well as recruiting volunteers to help with the day-to-day practices of the program. Students, family, and community members can all get involved in making this a success.

Non-Grant Participants

While the grant is strictly for Oklahoma Medicare and/or Medicaid nursing homes, LeadingAge Oklahoma is encouraging all senior care providers to participate in Music and Memory and the Oklahoma implementation. The Non-Grant Participation Process outlines the steps involved in joining this program separate from the grant funding. If you choose to join this program, you will need to fill out this Non-Grant Participation Agreement.

Read the Participation Details  to determine if this program is right for your facility, even if it is not eligible under the grant. If this is the case, you may register and pay for Music and Memory Certification  independently, without financial support from LeadingAge Oklahoma. However, your facility can benefit from participating with LeadingAge Oklahoma, without grant funding.

Non-grant participants may participate in the LeadingAge Oklahoma grant-sponsored monthly webinars and educational seminars at a cost of $250 per community/organization. The $250 allows for:

• Two staff to attend two dementia seminars during the grant period (CEUs available for an extra fee).
• Access to the LeadingAge Oklahoma monthly webinars.
• Program updates and provider networking to enhance implementation at your community/organization.

Be sure to read the available documents and resources, as well as the FAQ page for more details.

Contact with any questions, or to request to join us either as a Nursing Home Grant Participant, or as a Non-Grant Participant.



Check this page for documents, videos, implementation suggestions, information from webinars and more. We will continually add to these resources .

Volunteer opportunities

Volunteers, interns and community partners play an important role in senior care and services and in particular, the LeadingAge Oklahoma Music for the Ages – A Music and MemorySM Program. Each day in every senior care environment, volunteers support and encourage staff, families and seniors. Through their contributions of time, energy, inspiration and expertise, volunteers often report they receive more than they give.

Anyone may apply to become a volunteer.

There’s more than one way to help to create or join a LeadingAge Oklahoma Music for the Ages Service Project.

Tech Help

The program uses a computer-based music library, usually iTunes, to store the music for all the residents/clients in the care organization. A savvy volunteer can help with technology to download music, organize playlists, arrange for equipment organization, and teach staff how to charge and use the music players & adjust playlists.

Recommended skills:

  • A passion for perfection in finding the right music for each individual.
  • Enjoys researching music titles, online and onsite.
  • Understands iTunes and can organize an iTunes library using music downloads and CDs.
  • Logical, analytical mind.
  • Detail oriented.
  • Computer savvy.

Personalized Music Interviews

This program relies on music that makes an elder’s heart sing! But, because many of the elders in the project have dementia and aren’t able to communicate easily, sometimes a music “investigator” is needed to find out what those songs are. A service project for someone with good interpersonal skills or an interest in music history could include interviewing the residents to find their favorite songs, calling family members to learn more about their history, or using YouTube or iTunes to play songs from their youth to see if the resident responds more positively to some songs.

            Recommended skills:

  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Thoughtful listener.
  • Comfortable with interviewing – oral history research a plus.
  • Compassion for and interest in elders.
  • Empathy.
  • Adept at note taking or recording comments for retrieval and follow up.

 Fundraising, Donations and Community Support

To make this program successful, care organizations need music, music players, speakers, headphones and iTunes gift cards. A service project could assist development and communications staff raise funds for equipment, create and implement an iPod donation drive, write grants, and raise community awareness and goodwill for this program. By participating in this service area, you could develop your marketing and promotional skills to raise money for these items or solicit donations from the community. 

  • Promote an iPod Donation Drive

An iPod donation drive is a great way to collect gently used digital devices for people who need them most, support your local community or a sister community in need, and raise awareness for Music & Memory.

This is a wonderful activity for a grade school, high school or college community service project; church, synagogue or mosque community outreach; or service club program.

Anyone whose family member or friend has been affected by Alzheimer’s will have a strong motivation to contribute. In addition, as more and more people switch their music collections from iPods to smartphones, there’s a growing supply of second-hand iPods. We want to keep these devices out of landfills and put them into the hands of elders who can really benefit from personalized playlists.

            Recommended skills:

  • Excellent oral and written communication.
  • Well-organized.
  • Detailed oriented.
  • Strong interpersonal skills; enjoys working with the public.
  • Team player. Fundraising and/or public relations experience a plus.

Program Development

Every program needs policies and procedures to clearly articulate program goals, processes and outcomes to all staff across the organization.  This service project could develop your creative, analytical and communication techniques.  Determining the who, what, when and where of any program is a priority for any well-run successful program.  Interns and volunteers can work with leadership to research and draft policies, procedures, drawings, guidelines and best practices to create a well-organized approach to your program.

            Recommended skills:

  • Excellent writing and oral communication.
  • Good listener; works well with leadership and staff to gain their input.
  • Well organized; analytical.
  • Detailed oriented.
  • Proficient with Word or similar writing software; able to lay out text clearly, organize content in a format that is easy to skim.

Educate Family Members and Staff

Programs succeed when all parties understand the benefits of the program, know how and when to use the iPods and develop a sense of ownership and commitment to the program. Interns and volunteers could introduce the program to family members and staff.  Develop teaching materials, conduct presentations and training sessions to explain how the program works as well as the benefits.

Recommended Skills:

  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Strong communicator, can adapt explanation to the needs and abilities of the individual.
  • Empathetic and patient.
  • Understands details of the program as well as the benefits.
  • Clear and confident presenting to a group.
  • Proficient at Word, PowerPoint or similar writing and presentation software.
  • Some first-hand experience working with residents and their iPods is a plus.


Program Evaluation

All programs, regardless of when implemented, need to have a continuous quality review.  This is especially important for newly implemented programs to assess effectiveness of outcomes and processes and introduce changes if needed. Interns and volunteers can work with leadership to identify evaluation tools, collect data and analyze results to provide important quantitative measures of progress toward outcomes.

            Recommended skills.

  • Experience with research design, survey tools, data collection and analysis.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Good listener; works well with leadership and staff to gain their input.
  • Well-organized, analytical.
  • Detail oriented.
  • Proficient in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or similar software.

Important Information for Volunteers

  • Code of conduct – example of what you may encounter at your volunteer site. Download document

Contact Us

Contact us about becoming a volunteer and for all other volunteer-related questions.