While researchers around the world work to find new ways to treat Alzheimer’s and prevent the onset of dementia, families and caregivers try their best to make good use of the resources available to them. One tool that people may overlook is music!
Many Alzheimer’s patients can remember and sing songs even in advanced stages of the disease which is long after they’ve stopped recognizing names and faces. Assisted living facilities and memory units often use music as recreation since it brings patients pleasure. Although, beyond the entertainment value, there’s growing evidence that listening to music can also help stimulate seemingly lost memories and even help maintain some cognitive functioning.
Music therapy can be used to help stimulate communication and memory skills. Some believe that listening to live music and being involved in music-making experiences empowers patients to emerge from the isolation imposed by Alzheimer’s disease. Some benefits of music include:
- Memory Recall
- Positive Changes in Mood
- A Sense of Control in Life
- Non-pharmacological Management of Pain and Discomfort
- Stimulation that Promotes Interest and Curiosity
- Promotes Rhythmic Movement and Vocalization
- Opportunities to Interact Socially
Basically, music is used to maintain or increase levels of physical, mental, social and emotional functioning in Alzheimer’s or dementia patients. Music used as a sensory and intellectual stimulation can help maintain quality of life or even improve it.
But, how does it work?
For many years, music has been known to calm people down and provide relief from stress and tension. Today’s neuroscientists, equipped with brain scanning technology, can clearly see where and how music affects the brain.
We’ve found that music engages areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in memory. Findings suggest that music can help the brain organize incoming information. Also, research shows that listening to music releases dopamine (the happy chemical) in the brain sending pleasure signals to the rest of the body.
For people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, music therapy can help maintain cognitive levels and enhance overall brain functioning. In home care, incorporating music into your treatment plan may be a beneficial tool. A personalized music playlist in an iPod can be an effective way to promote well-being and enhance someone’s quality of life.
If you need help setting up a playlist for your loved one, please call us now at (561) 588-4545. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!