Elderly patients suffering from dementia react positively to listening to music from their youth on their iPods, according to the results of experimentation begun in 2008.
Social worker Dan Cohen saw how popular music already was in nursing homes and decided to see if there was any difference if the experience was made more personal. 200 iPods were distributed between four local nursing homes in 2008. As can be seen in the viral video below of 94-year-old Henry listening to his iPod, patients become instantly more sociable and interact more with their surroundings. Henry's video is the trailer for a documentary, Alive Inside, which is yet to be released, about Cohen's work and findings.
Seeing the effect the music had on the patients, Cohen went on to found the non-profit organisation Music & Memory, which delivers iPods to nursing homes. He is currently trying to collect 1 million iPods through donations given online and boxes in theatres on Broadway. Cohen has now inspired more than 50 nursing homes he knows of, in 15 states, to give patients personalised music through iPods.
Not only are iPods helping those in need but so is the iPad, as educational apps are currently being developed to help people with autism. The iPad is also being used as a communication tool and is breaking down barriers. Previously, when using sign-language, both participants needed to know the language and know it well enough to have a conversation, which could prove to be limiting. Furthermore, people affected by autism often work extremely well with technology, learning and working via iPads and the like may prove to be hugely advantageous. The simplicity of the iPad's interface means that it is suitable even for very young children. Recently the iPad has been used for speech therapy apps and teaching communication like gesturing and social skills.