Most people find music to be an enjoyable part of life, but can music actually “wake up” the mind? Definitely, according to therapists who have been using music therapy to promote a sense of self and memory in older adults suffering from dementia. Music therapy for dementia is a purposeful process where therapists work one-on-one or with groups using music and the sensations, feelings, and memories it evokes. Emotions generated by music can be so powerful that they’re suggestive of other things, even if patients are unable to remember who they are.
How Does Music Therapy Help Dementia Patients?
Listening to music and being involved in making music empowers people to rise up out of the isolation imposed by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Practitioners have found that music therapy for dementia produces many benefits for patients, including:
- Improvement in memory recall.
- Positive changes in emotional states and moods.
- More sense of control over life.
- Management of discomfort and pain without pharmacological intervention.
- Stimulation that induces interest even when other approaches have proven ineffective.
- Provision of structure that promotes continuous and rhythmic movement or vocal fluency that works as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation.
- Provision of opportunities to interact socially with others.
Is There Memory in Sound?
Dementia is a degenerative condition that makes being understood and expressing basic needs challenging for sufferers. This can lead to a feeling of isolation. Singing, when used in a therapeutic setting, provides a stimulating communicative structure and enables dialogue. Music therapy for dementia provides ways to employ cognitive skills that might otherwise be lost. Listening to music can have strong effects on people’s thinking, moods, and physiology. This is probably why a certain song brings back so vividly a specific memory.
Can Music Help People Exercise?
For people who suffer from only occasional or mild symptoms of dementia, music can help them get regular exercise. Moreover, because music makes exercise seem more pleasant and shorter, people tend to stick with exercise programs that include music. But, not just any music is suitable. The music needs to be carefully selected to support each particular exercise by suggesting the pace, direction, force, and number of repetitions. However, when working with seniors who may not be in the best of health, it’s important to obtain the approval of a physician before beginning any exercise program.
Is Music a Language?
Music can be thought of as a universal language that people in any stage of life can relate to and enjoy. However, when it comes to people with dementia, the value of music can go far beyond simply listening. Music used as a therapy especially benefits older persons with dementia who find it difficult to communicate. With the increasing aging population in the US, medical professionals may want to consider “tuning in” their patients to a therapy that can help to recall their forgotten memories. Music therapy for dementia uses music as an intellectual and sensory stimulant to help maintain a person’s quality of life or even improve it.
If you live in Columbia, South Carolina, another way to help an elderly loved one with dementia is to request assistance from Caring Healthcare. We can work with your medical providers and therapists to ensure the best outcome for your senior with dementia. Give us a call today.