The Power of Music & Dementia
The power of music and dementia for senior care is invaluable. Studies show that people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia can experience emotional and behavioral benefits from listening to or singing songs. A person’s musical memory is often one of the last memories to fade because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease.
For example, research has found that music can:
- Relieve stress
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Reduce agitation
Not only can music improve the quality of life for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease, but it also provides relief to caregivers who often feel anxious or stressed. It has been shown to lighten moods and provide a way to connect with loved ones who have difficulty communicating.
If you’re thinking about using music to help a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s disease, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Consider your loved one’s favorite type of music. What songs make him or her happy and recall pleasant memories? Get family and friends involved by requesting suggestions for songs or inviting them to create playlists.
- You can set the mood by playing music or singing during mealtime or a morning hygiene routine. If you’d like to uplift your loved one’s mood, choose more upbeat or fast-paced music.
- Keep things calm. If you’re playing music, get rid of other loud noises. Turn off the TV and close the door. Set the volume to what your loved one can hear comfortably. Choose music without commercials so there aren’t any sudden interruptions.”
- Get your groove on! Clapping along or tapping to the beat with your feet are great ways to get moving. If you’re able, consider busting a move with your loved one.
- You and your partner can bond while also improving both of your moods by singing together. Additionally, early studies suggest that musical memory works differently than other types of memory, so songs can help stimulate unique memories.
- As you play music for your loved one, take note of their reaction to better understand what type of tunes they prefer. If a certain song seems to fill them with joy, play it often. On the other hand, if a particular melody elicits negative reactions, try something else instead.
Songs can be a powerful tool for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. By choosing the right tunes and setting the mood, you can improve your loved one’s quality of life while also providing yourself with some much-needed relief.