iPods Awaken Memories Through Music for Those With Alzheimer's

ABC News' Byron Pitts reports:

Jean Paese says an iPod playlist of barber shop music helps her see glimpses of the Bill Paese she married 53 years ago.

Bill Paese, 82 and suffering from Alzheimer's disease, sang in a quartet most of his life - so his customized playlist is a bridge to good memories for both of them.

"He's in there and sometimes we get to see him," said Jean Paese, who visits her husband daily at the Rocky Knoll Health Care Center in Plymouth, Wis.

Alzheimer's Disease: Music Brings Patients 'Back to Life'

Dan Cohen, a social worker in New York, came up with the idea in 2006 to take unused iPods and make them available to those suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia. He started by creating playlists for residents at a local nursing home.

In 2010, Music & Memory was created and iPod donations by the thousands poured into Cohen's organization.

More than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

The customized playlists somehow link senior citizens with their pasts. Researchers think the music touches so many areas of the brain, making connections, that it may have the power to awaken memories and feelings that would otherwise be lost.

Cohen said his goal is to collect 1 million music players. So far, about 10,000 have been donated.

"It's not a cure. Nobody is going to live longer," Cohen said. "But their function is very often is better. … The impact of music grows over time."

Click here to find out how to donate old iPods.

ABC News