Music brings memories

09 May 2018

955 views comments • Tagged as Our Residents Staff Stories Napier

By Deborah Watts, Diversional Therapist, Atawhai Rest Home


There is something almost magical about the way our memory operates. We’ve all forgotten where we’ve put our keys or what we came to the grocery store for, yet when we hear a favourite old song we haven’t heard for decades, we remember every word.


Music has the power to peel away the years, regardless of how old we are. In our mind’s eye we can often picture where we were, what we were wearing, what we were doing, who was with us and even how we were feeling.


Music and memories go hand-in-hand, so when Oceania Healthcare launched its award winning I Love Music programme last year, it was an instant hit. Residents and their families got together to create a list of 100 to 200 songs—but not just any songs. To bring back all those wonderful memories, the music must be meaningful to the resident.

Songs that the resident would have listened to when they were young seem to work best—those carefree, happy years. Each resident’s personalised song list is then put on an MP3 player and that is when the magic happens.


It only takes the press of a button. They smile and begin to hum, others tap their feet, some sing out loud. The positive effects of listening to their favourite music is instantaneous.


Some residents like to share their music with a family member by using a splitter so two people can listen at the same time.
Sons or daughters sitting with mum or dad can reminisce about the memories the music brings back. Children see joy on their parents’ faces.


Resident Gillian Perry enjoys all kinds of different music and has more than 200 songs loaded on her MP3 player.


“When I hear the Bee Gees or John Denver, I’m back in the milk bar in Foxton where I met with my friends when Iwas young,” she says.


“I can picture myself drinking Foxton Fizz and picking out songs on the jukebox.”


Music activates so many parts of the brain that it has the power to bring back memories and words to songs even if part of the brain is not functioning as well as it used to.

Music stays with us until the end. For Oceania residents, there have been so many positives that have come from being able to listen to their favourite music anytime, anywhere.

Not only does it take them back in time, but it’s also relaxing, which helps manage anxiety, blood pressure and pain.


Music can also improve sleep quality and mood. If it’s that good for our residents, it could be good for you too!



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