Do you recall the last time that a song had a powerful emotional effect on you? Most of us have been moved at some point by a particular instrument or voice that happened to strike a chord.
Hearing certain songs may cause you to relive memories or recall powerful feelings, so it’s not surprising that researchers are starting to understand that music may be a powerful therapy for those with dementia.
In fact, organizations such as Music and Memory have been established just for the purpose of bringing the gift of music to the elderly.
How Does Music Help Dementia Patients?
Some studies suggest that music reduces agitation in dementia patients, and may also increase cognitive function.
Families of dementia patients may at times feel awkward when trying to engage their loved ones in conversation. They may feel frustrated because their loved ones can’t remember very much of the past, or even recognize the people around them. However, music can fill the silent void in the room, can change the demeanor of the patient, and lead to a more meaningful visit. As the elderly person starts to recall feelings of joy and contentment, stories of old times may also come back to mind, providing for pleasant conversation and a longer visit.
The documentary “Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory” explains how dementia patients come alive when they hear music they’ve loved in the past.
Bringing Your Loved One Back to Life With Music
Most of us recall songs that our parents or grandparents once loved and would often sing. Some families have found it helpful to compile a playlist of their loved one’s favorite songs and put it on an iPod or other Mp3 device. The main advantage of having a personalized playlist is obvious; the songs bring to mind personal memories and feelings. Another advantage is that those who are hard of hearing can raise the volume to a comfortable level.
It may also be helpful to have playlists for different moods. If your loved one suffers from episodes of pain, try to find soothing and relaxing music. For times of agitation or depression, upbeat songs that bring to mind happier times may be helpful.
Music is something that individuals of all ages, from the womb all the way to old age, enjoy. Why not use this wonderful tool to put a smile on your loved one’s face today?
- How to Care for the Elderly with Dementia (longtermhealth.wordpress.com)
- Personalized music helps dementia patients (newsday.com)
- Music Helps Dementia Patients Improve Their Memory (losangeles.cbslocal.com)