Recent studies have shown that listening to music can
dramatically help those suffering with Alzheimer's and dementia. And when
everyday tasks are paired up with music, both clients and their caregivers
Memory and music are closely connected in the brain,
and by listening to music popular in a happy time of their lives, it can help
bring back fond memories. Noted neurologist Oliver Sacks says that,
“Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory… it brings back the
feeling of life when nothing else can.” By playing music while doing daily
activities such as dressing, bathing and even
walking, your loved one can develop a rhythm to not only assist them now,
but could help improve their cognitive ability in the future.
Musical aptitude and appreciation of music are also
two of the very last remaining abilities found in dementia clients. Meaning
that even when your loved one is no longer able to speak or walk, they may
still find great comfort from listening to music. Connie J. of Upland, CA
shared a wonderful story with our office: “When my mother was declining rapidly
from Alzheimer’s, we found that listening to her favorite songs was the only
time she smiled! It was so good to see a part of her was still there, even
though she couldn’t speak.” In the later stages of dementia, clients
often lose the ability to share emotions with their loved ones. This
is one of the hardest parts of loving someone with memory loss. If your loved
one is still able to dance, give it a try! The need for the human touch never
leaves us, and it can lead to hugging and genuine affection, which can
bring back beautiful memories for the both of you.
By singing along to music, you engage both parts of
your brain. Singing activates the left side, while listening to music activates
the right. When your loved one can sing along to their favorite song, their
brains are being stimulated stronger than ever. By incorporating music
into your daily care plan with your loved one, you are not only helping them
manage their emotions easier, you are opening up a world of new communication
with the entire family. It's also a wonderful way for children to spend time
with family members struggling with memory loss. The love of music is something
that crosses all generations, and it could become one of the most powerful
memories a child may have of their grandparent.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has an entire
web page dedicated to music therapy in Alzheimer’s patients. Many hospice
agencies utilize music therapists that visit on a regular basis, as well. The
best part of music therapy is because music requires little to no mental
processing, singing along to music does not require the cognitive function that
is just not present in most dementia patients. A simple web search for music
and Alzheimer's can lead you to many resources available. The gift of music is
a wonderful thing, and the joy and comfort it can bring is a gift for the
For more information on this study, please visit 5 Reasons Why Music Boosts Brain Activity at alzheimers.net.
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