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On GivingTuesday, bring gift of music to York residents with dementia

The Music Project provides a MP3 player and customized playlist, without cost, to individuals with Alzheimer's and other dementias

Jennifer Dance Bowen knows the importance of music in the life of her husband, Feroze Mohammed, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Feroze has always enjoyed listening to music. It lifts his mood, gives him an activity and gives us a way of communicating since songs bring up memories that we can talk about.”

Feroze recently signed up for The Music Project, which provides a free MP3 player, over-the-ears headphones and customized playlist to individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Jennifer heard about The Music Project at the Alzheimer Society of York Region’s (AS York) donor appreciation event last October. She contacted AS York and was directed to a website, where she and Feroze spent a half-day choosing artists and songs for his MP3 player.

“As websites go, it’s fairly easy to navigate, but in order to make personalized choices of artists and songs, you need to devote some time,” she said.

The first question that came up — name 10 all-time favourite songs — was daunting, said Jennifer, who said she and Feroze could only come up with two. However, by filing out the application, their memories were jogged about songs and artists they enjoyed.

“By the end of the application, we had many more than 10 all-time favourites.”

Songs include Celine Dion and Josh Groban’s The Prayer; John Denver’s Take me Home, Country Roads; Momas and Popas’ California Dreamin’; James Taylor’s You’ve got a friend. Feroze even requested some Indian music, some Mighty Sparrow, steelband music, Jennifer said.

“The choices are amazing. I’d imagined it would just be mostly music from the old crooners, like Sinatra, but there’s opera, classical, big band, pop, soul, blues, jazz and music from the decades. There’s even calypso and reggae.”

Jennifer said with the categories, she and Feroze Googled the artist listed on the application and watched YouTube videos to confirm they wanted that particular song on the playlist.

“Ours truly is a personalized playlist of 100 songs.”

The MP3 player takes four to six weeks to arrive and remains with the person living with dementia.

Research suggests music can relieve stress and reduce anxiety, depression and agitation in people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The MP3 players are free for York Region residents living with Alzheimer’s disease, but costs AS York $200 per unit. To continue providing the gift of music to those living with dementia, AS York requires funding. This Giving Tuesday, AS York asks people to give the gift of music by donating to The Music Project.

GivingTuesday, Dec. 3, takes place the Tuesday after Black Friday and is considered the opening day of the giving season. A global movement, people are encouraged to donate time, money and talent to charities and non-profits, making the world a better place.

To help improve the lives of those living with dementia, AS York welcomes donations for the Music Project. Donate now online.

The Music Project has received funding from J.P. Bickell Foundation, Capital One, Newmarket Rotary Club and private donors. Learn more about Giving Tuesday at

— This article is contributed by Lisa Day, communications and fund development coordinator, Alzheimer Society of York Region