Using Music to Care for Dementia

“Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen

That, in a phrase, is the most important thing that music can do for those suffering with dementia. It speaks to them. Sometimes it even helps the non-verbal speak through song. Scientists are discovering amazing benefits of playing music for those with dementia. In fact, dementia clinical specialists now consider music a necessity as part of treatment.

Music has a positive emotional impact on those in any stage of dementia. For those in the early stages of the disease, music can be used to familiarize them with an activity. Music from their childhood might always be played at breakfast to signal it’s time to eat. Music from their young adult years might be played in the afternoon or evening when sun-downing begins to reduce anxiety or their need to “go home.”

For patients in the more advanced stages of dementia, music helps to brighten their moods and engage them. Numerous studies have shown that non-verbal dementia patients will respond to music and even sing the verses. For some, it helps people express themselves verbally in single words or short sentences.

Statistics show that more than 5 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia, with an estimated 15 million family members serving as caregivers. It’s estimated that 21 drugs have failed in the past 9 years, so progress on finding an effective treatment for dementia is slow going. Music can help to fill this void while we wait, and serve as a magic key to engaging, calming, and comforting dementia patients.

Music has also been shown to have a positive physical effect for dementia patients. Scientists have shown that is lowers blood pressure and heart rate and also reduces pain and anxiety.

Here are some ways in which you can use music as you care for your loved one:

  • Create a playlist of songs that you know are familiar to the senior you care for, including their favorite songs. What songs did your they hum, sing, dance to? What songs were popular when they were in growing up?
  • Daily sing-a-longs: Play music that is easy to sing along to. The repetitive lyrics engage the dementia patient and many non-verbal patients begin to sing the words to the song. These songs are fun and light-hearted and will help to improve the patient’s mood.
  • Comfort during agitation: Classical music is best for soothing agitation. Dementia patients frequently become agitated during certain times of day. Classical, chamber or even lullabies will help. If the agitation is best addressed by redirecting the patient, try music with lots of percussion that they tap their toes or clap their hands to.
  • “When words fail, music speaks” is something to remember as we try to brighten the days of our loved ones who are suffering from dementia.

    [gravityform id=”2″ name=”For More Information” description=”false”]
    livhome

    Author livhome

    More posts by livhome

    Leave a Reply