News &Views

Music & Memory: The Benefits of Music Therapy for Alzheimer’s Patients

January 2020
benefits-of-music-therapy

Every 68 seconds, an adult gets Alzheimer’s. It’s a deadly disease that’s expecting to affect even more people by the year 2050.

Alzheimer’s can be an overwhelming and terrifying experience for those suffering from the disease. Yet, it can also have devastating effects on their loved ones and caregivers.

Symptoms can begin with confusion and memory loss as well as problems connecting and communicating with those around them.

Recent research shows the benefits of music therapy for those suffering from the disease. Music is showing promise as a way to improve focus and communication. It’s also helping loved ones reconnect with those affected by dementia.

Read on for how music therapy can improve cognitive function and engagement for Alzheimer’s patients.

Music’s Affect on the Mind

The benefits of music have long gotten used in improving psychological issues. Listening to music elicits an emotional response in the brain.

This makes it a powerful tool in affecting human thinking and behavioral patterns. Music can create feelings that allow our bodies and minds to perform better. This is why people listen to music when working out, taking tests, or doing creative projects.

Music also offers a different medium of expression than other forms of communication. When listening to music, it can encourage people to think, feel, and act a certain way.

Many wonder how does music affects memory? Music helps to activate the section of the brain responsible for memory retention. This means that music can help people trigger happy memories of past experiences.

The Benefits of Music Therapy

As music triggers brain activity, it can also provide an all-natural form of therapy. It offers much more than sound; it appeals to all the body’s senses.

It works to affect mood, movement, communication, and memory. This makes combining music and Alzheimer’s patients a unique therapy technique.

Mood

Listening to music has a huge effect on our emotions. It can channel the brain to feel happy or relaxed.

It does this by telling the brain to produce certain hormones. This stabilizes the mood and can even reduce anxiety and depression.

Music evokes certain behaviors, creating a more positive mental state. It can also provide a form of distraction. If a person is in physical or emotional pain, music can take their mind off it.

Movement

Music encourages movement, as it evokes a physical response from the body. Patients get involved in music by interacting with their hands, face, and body.

They may sing, hum, clap, and tap their feet to the beat. Others may even get up and sway or dance to the music. This makes music an excellent form of therapy for improving motor functions.

Communication

Music is a universal form of expression that gets appreciated by any language. It offers a way for people to communicate feelings without needing to speak.

Music also influences social interaction and the development of social skills. This can encourage communication and help patients to reconnect with their loved ones.

Memory

Short-term memory loss is often one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Yet, many patients that suffer memory loss are still able to recognize a song from long ago. This is because music can still reach the memory storage areas in the brain.

This style of therapy helps patients in connecting music to a past memory. It does this by remembering certain emotions, which get linked to past memories. It can also help them remember connections to loved ones.

Using Music Therapy to Help Alzheimer’s Patients

Playing music for an Alzheimer’s patient can be therapeutic on both a mental and physical level. Start by incorporating it into their day to day activities. You can play music during exercise, bathing, leisure activities, and mealtimes.

Here are a few tips to consider when using music therapy to better a patient’s wellbeing.

Select Songs of Their Time

It can be helpful to choose music that they enjoyed listening to during positive times in their life. These can be childhood favorites or hit songs that may evoke positive memories.

You also want to take into account the patient’s history with music. This includes whether they ever played an instrument or if they had a favorite singer or musical that they enjoy.

Pay Attention to Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues

As you play music, be sure to watch for the patient’s reaction. This includes facial expression or changes in body language. Note if the patient looks tense or at ease while listening to a certain song.

Also, be careful not to overstimulate them. You want to limit other distractions or noises while music is playing.

Take note of which songs evoke the best reactions in the patient and play them often. This can help re-establish an emotional connection.

Pick the Right Music Style

Different songs can work well for helping a patient get through certain times of the day. During the morning, you may want to energize the patient with a positive and upbeat melody.

At night, focus on songs with soft lyrics and relaxing instrumentals. This will help soothe and comfort them while setting the right mood for sleep. Music can increase the production of sleep hormones in the body.

Music can also stabilize their moods and create a less stressful environment. Music and dementia therapy techniques are especially helpful if they are feeling overwhelmed.

Encourage More Appreciation for Music

Do your best to continue to bring the joy of music back into their lives. Music can help an Alzheimer’s patient through the early, middle, and late stages of the disease.

Try singing a favorite song to your loved one. Or bring someone in to play the piano for them. You also want to encourage them to move to the music or sing along.

You can also create a playlist of all their favorite tunes. It also helps to combine different forms of therapy, like music and art. Or you can join music with innovative physical therapy techniques.

Getting the Right Care for Your Loved One

The many benefits of music therapy can change the quality of life for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. As it’s a disease that can’t touch a person’s love and appreciation for music. Music therapy can help improve their mood, movement, memory, and connections with others.

Ripley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center specializes in innovative, restorative, and comfortable techniques for those suffering from Alzheimer’s. Learn more about how their professional care programs can help your loved one.

Contact