Walgreens Find Care announced Thursday that it is partnering with Music Health, a music therapy company, to provide people living with dementia with an app that gives them a “personalized soundtrack” aimed at triggering long-lost memories.
The practice is known as reminiscence therapy and seeks to empower people who have memory loss by finding old songs that may remind them of past eras in their lives.
The personalized soundtrack, powered by artificial intelligence, seeks out songs by using information about the person’s cultural background, where they grew up and their age as well as their music tastes, favorite musicians and genres.
The app, called Vera, seeks to pinpoint the music that would be the most impactful for that individual.
Vera states that the app, and the “right music,” can help improve behavioral expression, brain plasticity and quality of life. The company also claims that Vera can address some mental health symptoms, like agitation and depression among people with dementia. It’s designed specifically to target behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, also known as BPSD.
“It acts as a music detective that re-discovers songs they used to love a long time ago but may have forgotten about, which their caregivers may have never heard of, and their families may not even know of,” Stephen Hunt, Music Health co-founder, said in a statement.
Reminiscence therapy is a relatively new concept that’s been explored as a way to lessen some of the psychological issues associated with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It can range from visual therapy, like looking at old photos, to introducing certain kinds of music or books that can spur old memories.
Some adult day care facilities have even popped up in recent years, such as a Town Square in Baltimore, that are designed to mimic a 1950s town – complete with a diner featuring a jukebox with old tunes. Town Square offers a place for people with dementia to be re-immersed in a place that can trigger memories.
Some studies have pointed to the benefits of the therapy, noting it can improve mood and social interactions among people with dementia. However, other studies have found that the benefits of reminiscence therapy are inconsistent. There also simply isn’t enough research on the therapy.
Music in particular, however, has been linked to improvements in behavioral issues among people with cognitive decline.
As part of the partnership, Walgreens customers can get $5 off their annual Vera subscription.