It is an understatement to say that a diagnosis of dementia is frightening. The prospect of a mind deteriorating over time, with no cure, is simply too scary to contemplate. However, what if something could cut through the fog of the disease? Wouldn’t that be a most welcome possibility? Music therapy does just that.
Clinicians recorded a video of an older man in a wheelchair, deeply affected by the dementia, slumped over in the chair and unresponsive. When given headphones with the audio of a favorite song playing, he sits up and smiles and perfectly sings along with the lyrics of the song. Although each person responds at various levels, this is a powerful testament to what music therapy can do.
Depending on the type of music and the rhythm, music can calm the brain, inspire memory, and sooth nerves. It can lower blood pressure and the heart rate. In fact, music can bring back memories which seem unrelated to the music being played. Explained simply, each of us frequently associate a specific song to a moment, place or experience in life. Hearing that song brings back the memories of that place and time.
Music can also inspire bonding. Certain pieces of music can help to express an idea when words alone can’t do the job. When caregivers and family members sing to patients with Dementia they sometimes discover that the patient will begin to sing along. Music is deep in the brain and lyrics can emerge despite memory diseases. The cruelty of Dementia is that it steals loved ones away. It can leave family members and friends without a way to connect to them. Music can provide that connection.
The best music to play for a person with Dementia is music from when they were young. Depending on the age of the senior, this could mean the Beatles, Elvis, or Sinatra. It could be jazz or pop. If the music is familiar, and has lyrics that they could sing when they were in their 20s, it has the potential to open a wellspring of memories for them today.
Not only is music therapy used with people who suffer from Dementia, it is also used with those who have suffered a stroke or suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. The bottom line is that when nothing else seems to impact cognitive loss, music is sometimes the perfect answer. It has the power to help caregivers and loved ones connect with a senior who has seemed lost to them for a long time.
LivHOME professionals understand the importance of patients with Dementia living with purpose. It means finding a sense of purpose and moments of celebration in daily life. LivHOME professionals structure the client’s day with activities and interactions that are connected to who they are and that bring a smile to their face.