Music Really Can Soothe the Savage Beast!

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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 benefit! 

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 entire family.

For more information on this study, please visit ​5 Reasons Why Music Boosts Brain Activity at ​​.


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