Home » Senior Living News Blog » Music Therapy Works For Dementia Patients
Carlton Senior Living | January 18, 2016 | By Jonita Dixon

Music Therapy Works For Dementia Patients

senior-woman-listening-to-some-musicWhen your loved one suffers from dementia, it can be a heart-wrenching experience for everyone involved. The individual loses his or her memory over time and their judgment becomes increasingly impaired. Our loved one may suffer from the inability to find the words they want to say, experience a loss in motor function, have reduced coordination, and simple tasks can become next to impossible to handle.

A loved one witnessing the symptoms of someone with dementia may note changes in the person’s personality and behaviors, errors in reasoning, agitation, aggression, and a myriad of other symptoms. It can make you feel helpless as your loved one’s condition worsens without being able to do anything about it..

Where Music Can Make A Difference

A video was put on YouTube of an elderly man with dementia revealing how his favorite music seemingly brought him back from the inner workings of dementia. Despite being in the later stages of dementia, he became responsive to the music he loved for years as it played from a small iPod. He becomes more animated, sings, and becomes responsive to “yes” and “no” questions after listening to the music.

While the result will vary from one individual to another, music offers positive results for those who suffer from dementia. The power of music could not be more evident than it is in some of the members of the group called The Unforgettables: a special chorus group based in New York City, where the members have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Not only did the members of the group sing and enjoy themselves, they also showed cognitive improvements.

Improvements In A Variety Of Ways

According to a study conducted by the Center for Cognitive Neurology, following a bit more than twelve rehearsals and a single public concert, the members of the group suffering from dementia had improved self-esteem, noticed a reduction in depression, and notable improvements in life quality. One theory suggests that singing is a workout for the body and brain, including exercises that involve movement, breathing, memory, and use our voice. When a person sings, it releases feel good chemicals in the brain like serotonin and dopamine.

Essentially, music triggers the brain’s pleasure center via chemical changes. Best of all, it improves memory recall, and music recognition and appreciation are two skills that remain even in later stages of the disease because certain pieces of music are attached to memories. While the research may be in an early stage, it should be obvious that music therapy may offer some hope for those living with dementia.