Music therapy can enrich the lives of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Music can be powerful. Studies have shown music may reduce agitation and improve behavioral issues that are common in the middle-stages of the disease. Even in the late-stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may be able to tap a beat or sing lyrics to a song from childhood. Music provides a way to connect, even after verbal communication has become difficult.
Research suggests that listening to or singing music can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease
Use these tips when selecting music for a person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia:
- Identify music that’s familiar and enjoyable to the person. If possible, let the person choose the music.
- Choose a source of music that isn’t interrupted by commercials, which can cause confusion.
- Use music to create the mood you want. For example, a tranquil piece of music can help create a calm environment, while a faster paced song from someone’s childhood may boost spirit and evoke happy memories.
- Encourage movement (clapping, dancing) to add to the enjoyment.
- If your loved one seems to enjoy particular songs, play them often. If your loved one reacts negatively to a particular song or type of music, choose something else.
With Alzheimer’s patients, music offers a variety of benefits at each stage of the disease. This is especially true in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, when patients may disconnect from anything happening around them and experience an inability to communicate and connect with others verbally. A visible change often takes place when Alzheimer’s patients hear music. They may perk up and take a renewed interest in their surroundings. Upon hearing music they might sing, dance or clap their hands. Responses to rhythm bypass the typical response process in the brain. Instead, it responds to the music directly and orders the body to respond, by clapping, swaying or humming to the music.
Music can also benefit caregivers by reducing anxiety and distress, lightening the mood, and providing a way to connect with loved ones who have Alzheimer’s disease — especially those who have difficulty communicating.
Here at Seasons Memory Care, we offer a state-of-the-art, customized approach to senior living. Contact us to learn more.