HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Boston, Massachusetts, USA or Virtually from your home or work.

8th Edition of International Conference on Neurology and Brain Disorders

October 19-21, 2023

October 19 -21, 2023 | Boston, Massachusetts, USA
INBC 2023

Anish Ganesh

Speaker at Neurology and Brain Disorders 2023 - Anish Ganesh
The Dementia Project, United States
Title : Silent discos for dementia care: An accessible tool for music engagement


The symptoms of dementia often create a barrier between People Living with Dementia (PLWD) and their caregivers, which fuels a cycle of worsening outcomes for both parties. Care partners need a tool that alleviates this communication barrier to improve behavioral outcomes and quality of life. Music is uniquely positioned to fulfill this function, as memories are rooted rhythmically in the brain in a region labeled the Musical Memory Area within the Auditory Cortex. This region is largely untouched throughout dementia, allowing access to memories as the disease progresses.1 Therefore, effectively engaging with the tune of a familiar song can spark moments of joy, remembrance, and connection.2,3 In response to this growing need for music as an accessible resource, The Dementia Project (TDP) created the Memory Disco, bringing the power of music into group settings such as family gatherings, memory care facilities, and hospitals. The program was designed in collaboration with neurologists from the University of Cincinnati over 8 years, resulting in a multisensory musical experience that combines TDP’s Musical Engagement Program with silent disco technology. The usage of silent disco technology overcomes the innate barriers that often restrict PLWDs from experiencing impactful engagement. The technology allows an unlimited amount of noise-canceling headphones to be playing the same music at the same time, addressing variations in hearing needs and the reduced attention span associated with dementia. This fosters a high-level of musical engagement at baseline, paving way to integrate engagement techniques. TDP’s Engagement Program is built to manage the behavioral changes of dementia by integrating three techniques: rhythmic engagement, physical touch, and community involvement. Rhythmic engagement, via handheld percussion instruments, can create an organizing effect on movements, emotions, and thoughts, which are crucial to coping with the cognitive changes of dementia.4,5 Physical touch, such as holding hands, decreases agitation, increases stimulation of sensory systems, and improves perception of the musical environment. Lastly, while the symptoms of dementia make traditional communication hard, music serves as a universal language, offering a common ground for creating moments of connection. Group bonding activities in dementia settings are few and far between. Community involvement through music can improve bonding, strengthen caregiver relationships, and reduce symptoms of depression for PLWD. Memory Discos are designed to improve the mood, behavior, and cognition of PLWDs while allowing caregivers opportunities for connection.

Overall, silent discos are perceived as useful, easy to use, and result in positive attitudes in PLWD and caregivers alike.6 TDP has conducted over 200 Memory Discos, impacting over 500+ PLWDs and 1,500+ care partners. Its unique ability to engage 15-20 residents with a single facilitator, improve the mood of PLWDs, and increase connection with care partners, make Memory Discos a prime tool for dementia care. By leaning on technology to bridge the gap between effective life enrichment and limited resources within dementia care communities, Memory Discos are an innovative tool to combat caregiver burnout and the burden on understaffed facilities. The impact of Memory Discos suggest that further clinical understanding of the mediating behavioral mechanisms initiated by the memory disco may uncover a novel therapeutic technique.

Audience Take Away
? Understand how and why music uniquely affects People Living with Dementia
? Understand the key barriers to engagement in dementia care and the ripple effects it can have on caregivers
? Explain how silent discos remove communication barriers and create accessible musical engagement
? Explain engagement techniques used to promote movement, active listening, and communication through music


Anish Ganesh (21), B.S. in Neuroscience at The Ohio State University, is the Vice President of The Dementia Project. Anish’s decade-long journey with music and memory started at age 12 with his grandmother. Using music as a tool for nonverbal communication, Anish learned of the value music can have in building connection. Since 2019, Anish has worked in a National Institute of Health funded Alzheimer’s research lab at The Ohio State University. He also spearheads a live music program for dementia communities in the clinical setting at the Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.