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Cyndi Lauper, Jessie Mueller, Annaleigh Ashford Share Alzheimer's PSAs

Thursday Jul 13, 2017

Music icon Carole King teamed up with Tony-winning actors Annaleigh Ashford and Jessie Mueller, as well as Tony-winning composer-lyricist Cyndi Lauper, to raise awareness for Music & Memory, a program that advocates for music to improve the lives of those with dementia and Alzheimer's.

"For people with dementia, it's all about music that holds personal meaning," Music & Memory Founder Dan Cohen tells Playbill. "What could hold more personal meaning than when someone saw the original 'Hello, Dolly!' [and they hear that music]?" Generating a playlist of songs from those musicals -- those cherished experiences -- is irreplaceable therapy. "You give them the whole soundtrack and then it's blissful for people."

A non-profit founded in 2010, Music & Memory advocates for the use of personalized music to improve the lives of anyone who struggles with cognitive impairments, particularly dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The organization secures funding and provides approximately 200 to 300 donated iPods each month to assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, home care providers, and more.

Through webinars and training, Music & Memory teaches professionals in these facilities to create developed music programs to serve those in need. Executive director Dan Cohen specializes in the creation of the program and the curated playlists that light up the faces of old souls.

GRAMMY, Tony and Emmy Award-winner Cyndi Lauper, Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller and Tony Award-winner Annaleigh Ashford have filmed PSAs in support of Music & Memory, all which debuted via Playbill this morning. Three of Broadway's biggest names join Carole King -- whose PSA debuted via The Doctors in 2016 -- in speaking out support of this NY-based non-profit that "unlocks precious memories" to "light up the faces and improve the quality of life for those suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia.

Music & Memory hopes to create a world inside the headphones that elders can then share and build new relationships. Volunteer students spend time with the nursing home residents using headphone splitters to shape an experience.

The organization now operates in all 50 states, Canada, Australia, Europe, Israel, and South Africa. Music & Memory has been called "the most effective way to improve life for people with dementia" by state governments.

Whether struggling with a diagnosis or not, Cohen says everyone should have a playlist set up for their elders. Should a family member or friend enter the health care system at any time, their loved one's music is ready to go and so are their memories.

Learn more about Music & Memory here:


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