Did you know that there are 50 million people worldwide who suffer from dementia?
Dementia causes people’s memory, thinking, behavior, and their ability to perform everyday activities to deteriorate. It can be a very difficult condition for the person with dementia, their family, and their career.
Keep reading to find out the connection between music and dementia and how music therapy can help patients with dementia.
How Does Music Affect Your Mood?
There are many benefits of listening to music. Different types of music can help affect your mood, such as listening to upbeat, happy music can increase your happiness levels, whilst listening to mellow music can help to reduce your stress levels.
Music can also improve your memory and help to reduce stress and anxiety. Some studies have even found that listening to music can help to reduce physical pain.
Playing a musical instrument or singing along to music can help to also build up your self-confidence and help you learn new skills.
People can even relive happy memories and feel the emotions they felt by listening to songs about memories. For example, if you had a song playing at your wedding for your first dance, you are more likely to remember the song and when it is played, and you’ll feel happier. These emotional events can help listeners remind themselves of valued past events.
Can Music Help People with Dementia?
Various studies have found that music and music therapy can help people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia. But how?
Musical memories are often unaffected by dementia because the area of the brain linked to musical memory is undamaged by the condition.
Some research has found that listening to or singing songs can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for people with dementia. Music can help to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and agitation.
Music can help improve the quality of life at home, encourage independent living, and support a person’s mental well-being. These are all crucial factors for those suffering from dementia.
So, how can music specifically help patients with dementia? Let’s find out.
1. Sparks Memories and Emotions of Those Memories
People who have dementia have problems remembering things. However, music can help patients remember things and remember the emotions they felt during those memories.
Dementia sufferers who pair music with everyday activities can help them find a rhythm and remember how to do those activities. Recalling the memory of a certain activity can help to improve a patient’s cognitive abilities, helping to make them more independent.
Tip: Think about the kind of music they enjoy. If there are particular songs that make them happy or remember happy times, then make sure you add these to a playlist for them. Gather friends and family to help you create a personalized playlist that meets the emotional needs of your loved one.
2. Provides Emotional and Physical Closeness
Dementia patients in later stages of the disease often find themselves losing the ability to share their emotions with their family and caregivers. However, music can help to provide emotional and physical closeness. This is because music encourages people to dance and sing along, these actions can help dementia sufferers touch and hug, which can bring security and memories.
Tip: If the dementia sufferer is able to do so, make sure you get them up to have a little dance. Alternatively, you might decide to help them clap their hands or tap their feet along to the music.
3. Improves Moods and Reduce Stress
Changes in mood and behavior are common symptoms of people suffering from dementia. By listening to music, people with dementia can boost their moods and reduce their stress levels. The main reason why listening to music can help dementia patients is because listening to music and singing along, doesn’t require a lot of mental processing, so the cognitive functioning of their brain isn’t needed for this activity.
Tip: Encourage your loved one to sing along to the music with you. Choose songs that you know they like and that they know the words to. Singing along together can help to boost your moods and can spark a closeness between the two of you.
4. Boosts Brain Engagement
Taking part in singing sessions can help dementia patients to use more of their brains than usual. Stimulating the brain in different ways can help to improve dementia sufferer’s cognitive ability.
Singing can activate the left side of a person’s brain, while listening to music can spark activity in the right side of the brain. Watching the class can help to activate the visual parts of the brain.
Tip: Encourage your loved one to join a choir, or suggest that the caregivers have a weekly singing session that the dementia patients can attend.
5. Reaches Dementia Sufferers Beyond the Disease
Dementia can often make it seem as though the person you once knew is gone. However, music aptitude and appreciation are two abilities that remain in a person long after other cognitive abilities have gone. This is why family members, friends, and caregivers can use music to reach a dementia sufferer beyond the disease and reach the person they once knew.
For more information, check out these things to know about how to care for a loved one with dementia.
Tip: Try to get them involved with the music as much as possible. Play songs that they enjoy and that helps them to remember positive emotions and memories. If there’s a particular song that they enjoy listening and singing along to then make sure you play it often for them.
Music and Dementia: Try Using Music Therapy
As you can see, there is a strong correlation between music and dementia. So, if you’re wanting to help a loved one who has dementia make sure you try music therapy. When possible, play music to help boost their mood and also play it when they’re performing everyday tasks to help them remember how to do the activity.
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