Jewish Family Services have teamed with Music & Memory to ask for donations of iPod Shuffles for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. (Photo courtesy
Jewish Family Services have teamed with Music & Memory to ask for donations of iPod Shuffles for Alzheimer's and dementia patients. (Photo courtesy of Eyeball NYC)
Michael Rossato Bennett's debut film, "Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory," which is in this year's Sundance Film Festival's U.S. Documentary Competition follows Music & Memory executive director Dan Cohen as he touches the lives of elderly patients and residents in nursing homes with iPods and headphones.

His initial goal is to facilitate all 13,000 nursing homes in the nation with iPod Shuffles. (See story titled 'Alive Inside' gets an emotional response at Sundance), and to do that, he is accepting donations of used iPods on his website, www.musicandmemory.org .

"We believe everyone should have access to music regardless of their cognizant or physical condition," Cohen said. "Just because a person is old and unable to work a device such as a CD player, he or she should have access to their music."

The Jewish Family Services that has offices in Salt Lake City and Park City is the first Utah-based organization to partner with Cohen to collect iPod Shuffles for in-state nursing homes and private residences of patients who suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia.

The nonprofit is a nondenominational social services organization that helps provide anyone of any faith through counseling, community education and care management for seniors, said executive director Ellen Silver.

"We're one of the few organizations that help keep their older loved ones at home," Silver said. "We recently received a grant from the Administration of Aging to build programs that support caregivers so they don't have to move their loved ones into a facility."

The partnership stemmed from an NPR broadcast about Music & Memory heard by Clara McClane, director of professional services at the Jewish Family Services.

"I was driving home from work at the beginning of last year and was thinking about what our next project would be, and I heard this story," said McClane. "If you work with older adults and any of the vulnerable populations and love music, it goes right to heart."

McClane brought the concept to her team at the Jewish Family Services, which included executive director Ellen Silver.

"We are always looking for new ways to continue our mission," Silver said. "[Music & Memory] is one of those great programs that we could use to do that."

Most of the work Cohen does is on long-term facilities, so the Jewish Family Services will bring the program into private homes.

"This will be another tool in the caregivers' tool boxes to help them," she said. "Dan has showed us how to clean the iPods up so we can re-use them."

In addition to iPod Shuffles, Jewish Family Services will accept iTunes gift cards and money to buy more Shuffles.

"We are also planning to host some donation drives in the coming months so instead of throwing away their old devices, people can give them to us, and they will be graciously accepted," Silver said.

Jewish Family Services will also need volunteers to help clean up the shuffles and load them with music.

"Once we do an assessment with the family and get a playlist, we'll need people to build them onto the equipment and keep them updated," Silver said.

"We want to take advantage of the power of music to help people reconnect with themselves who may no longer recognize their own family members or even speak," Cohen said. "The iPod Shuffle is an easy tool to use for this simple task that has a profound result."

Donations can be made at the Jewish Family Services Park City office at 650 Round Valley Rd. at Quinn's Junction or the Salt Lake office at 1111. E. Brickyard Rd., Suite 218.

For more information, call 435-640-6697, 801-746-4334 or visit www.jfsutah.org.