Elvis Costello Makes Public Service Announcement for Music-Based Alzheimer’s Charity
The battle that Elvis Costello's grandmother had with Alzheimer's disease fueled his 1989 hit "Veronica." Now, he's lending his voice to a charity that helps Alzheimer's patients by creating unique playlists of songs that could possibly reconnect them to their memories.
Dan Cohen founded Music & Memory in 2010 after he brought iPods to nursing homes and noticed that those suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia and noted the positive response. "We found that, in general, people were less agitated," he told Rolling Stone. "They were more cooperative, more attentive, more engaged, in less pain and more articulate. ... Grandparents will not remember people's names, and people with advanced dementia tend to get to a point where they can't recognize their own family. They may not be able to communicate with words, but they will recognize that music."
Costello, who made a public service announcement for Music & Memory (embedded above), witnessed the power of music when his father, who died in 2011, was suffering from Parkinson's-related dementia. "I insisted that an iPad playing his favorite music – and scrolling an album of family photographs – be visible and audible to him during his waking hours," he said. "At times when little else penetrated his torments and distress, it was music rather than spoken word that reached him. On a few occasions, he emerged through an apparent fog to state the identity of a singer or gather a tune in a voice that was still surprisingly melodious and true at a time when his speech was reduced to a hoarse whisper."
Upon learning of Music & Memory, Costello reached out to help. "It was clear to me that the charity is offering that same possibility of solace and comfort [as in my family], and the little that I was asked to do [to support it] was a task readily undertaken."
Elvis Costello Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness