Music has amazing power, especially for those who are living with Alzheimer’s disease or some other cognitive impairment. Studies show that listening to familiar music can significantly improve mood and alertness, reduce agitation and can help with a number of behavioral issues that are common in the middle-stages of the disease. Even in the late-stages of Alzheimer’s a person may be able to tap a beat or sing lyrics from a childhood song. For caregivers, music can be very soothing, relaxing and it can get your mind off of your care giving tasks for a few moments.
Sitting and listening to familiar music together can also provide a way for a caregiver to bond with the person with Alzheimer’s, even after that person stops recognizing your name and face.
Here are a few tips to help you create rhythmic medicine:
Create a Playlist
The first step is to identify the music that’s familiar and enjoyable to your loved one. Do they like Jazz, Classical or maybe Frank Sinatra. Make a playlist on your cell phone or iPod of music that makes your loved one want to get up and dance. Try to go back to the era when your loved one was a teenager, it’s sure to put a smile on their face if they recognize a song from their past.
After listening to music for awhile, you should see some changes in your loved one. Your loved one may become less agitated, more alert and most likely be in a good mood. Music therapy ultimately reduces agitation and stress by altering the way your loved one perceives noise. Noises start to seem more familiar and buffer extraneous noises that can frighten patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, music therapy can provide a way for your loved one to communicate, interact and bond with others.