Enhancing Life for the Aged through Music

Since its founding in 1988, the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music has sought to inspire new generation musicians to have a positive impact on their society.   Current research has demonstrated the effects of music in enhancing the lives of the elderly, especially those with severe dementia, by triggering personal aural memories. How may one best tap into those memories and trigger seemingly latent neural paths? How can regular live musical events significantly improve the general quality of life and wellness of the aged?

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The Program

Through the generosity of the Abraham and Sonia Rochlin Foundation (USA), The Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music has established a Scholarship and Research Project for Young Professionals, for musicians, musicologists and social workers committed to creating and researching hands-on musical interactions with golden age adults in Israel in a training environment. The Program has sought out young adults who are not only brilliant in their disciplines, but who also have the commitment to bettering their society. A core project group  has been selected from a pool of applicants, and chosen through a review process. Each chosen participant has been awarded the equivalent of full year’s Israeli university tuition ($2500 /in shekels).

The project is being conducted in four homes for the aged in Jerusalem: Beit Rochlin (Kyriat Menachem); Beit Sababa (Ramat Rachel); Nofei Yerushalayim (Beit Vagan) and Beit Shulamit (Talpiot) over the school year (October 2015 to July 2016).  Most of the elderly are suffering from Mid to Late-Stage Alzheimer’s and related dementia; in addition, a pilot group of Early Stage Dementia patients has been formed.  Each researcher/music expert has been paired with 4-5 individuals with whom he/she is working over the entire eight-month period of the project).  The primary goal is to “open windows” for each of the elderly participants, to help create private spaces in which he/she may renew and illuminate past memories through music.  The participants and their families have given permission to be videoed throughout the year.  We will analyze aspects of their gestures and expressions over this period, with the help of gesture experts, as well as qualitative data (case studies) from discussions with friends, family and nursing home personal.

According to Dr. Stephen Horenstein, Project and Research Director:

“For the elderly, we seek to enhance the feeling of ownership of their lives, of some aspects of renewed identity.  We want to help them to sustain such feelings over a longer periods of time.  This necessitates creating more and more “windows” into their souls, while creating private places of comfort, safety, serenity, and enlivening….sacred places…where they do not feel so alone and afraid. Through deep enjoyment and sensory experience, we hope to bring the elderly back to their deepest memories and senses, so that through the experiencing of each window they become more whole again, from window to window.”

Though the research is important, the project’s primary goal is to elevate the quality of life of elderly (and their families), in “harmony” with an array of new techniques to improve the overall quality, aesthetics and healing nature of environments, embracing sound, acoustics, light, colors, fragrance, architecture, and design.

Core Project Group (2015-2016)  Congratulations!
Uri Agnon, Noa Yaffe, Dina Kitrossky, Erez Aviram, Maayan Blevis, Alona Haber, Avigail Immanuel, Yoel Shemesh Gold, Eyal Netzer, Tal Abraham and Nika Kushner. Special research grant: Yaniv Kuris.

On behalf of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music we look forward to working with you as the new “Core Project Group”, both on research and enhancing the quality of life for the aged.

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The Core Project Group (2015-2016)

For further information and more detailed materials, please contact: goldenage.jicm@gmail.com; Tel: 1 212 380 1415

For donations:  Contributions to the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music may be made through P.E.F Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. with a recommendation for use of funds to the Institute. Please mail your check and recommendation to: P.E. F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc., 630 Third Ave, Ste 1501, New York NY 10017 USA. All donations are US tax-exempt. Contributions are also possible through at Israel Gives  www.israelgives.org 


Elderly woman taking part in a Music and Movement therapy class,

Elderly woman taking part in a Music and Movement therapy class,

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