Music therapy can enrich the lives of seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. People of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures can relate to music, and familiar songs and melodies have a way of enhancing metal performance and evoking memories and emotions. According to the World Health Organization, 47.5 million people across the globe have dementia, and there are 7.7 million new cases each year. Learn how music influences people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Effects of Music on the Brain
It remains a mystery just how the brain processes music, but researchers believe that nearly every part of the brain is used. There is also a strong connection between the brain’s auditory cortex and the limbic system, which is where emotions are processed.
For individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s music therapy can help recall memories by evoking the emotions attached to certain songs or tunes. By playing music during certain activities, some patients are able to develop a routine that helps them to recall a memory of a certain activity, which helps to improve cognitive ability. Dementia sound therapy is effective in many patients, as music requires little to no mental processing.
For these reasons, Alzheimer’s music therapy is thought to have healing powers. Not only can it be used to bring back memories, but can also improve the mood of patients with neurological diseases, boost cognitive skills, and improve one’s quality of life.
Use of Music in Dementia Care
Dementia sound therapy can be used for patients in all stages of the disease, but works best with patients with early Alzheimer’s. The best way to get a loved one with dementia to engage in music is to play a familiar song or genre.
It may be helpful to begin with widely-known tunes from major motion pictures, such as ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ (from ‘The Wizard of Oz’), or ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ (from ‘Pinocchio’). The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) also suggests choosing songs from the individual’s young adult years, preferably between 18 and 25. These songs are likely to provoke strong responses.
While there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, music and dementia sound therapy has been proven effective in helping care for and support people with various dementias. The power of music is indisputable, reaching parts of the damaged brain in ways no other treatment can.