People that are living with memory loss often experience difficult symptoms that can result in confusion and anxiety. Learn how making personally meaningful music part of your routine can act as medicine to reduce stress and help people feel like themselves.
- Dr. Oliver Sacks -
Losing memory and the ability to comfortably interact with other people can be unsettling for people with dementia. These symptoms can contribute to stressul emotions, such as:
While there are four medications that are approved by the FDA to help lessen or stabilize symptoms of Alzheimer's and related dementia, the impact of these solutions varies for each individual. Research suggests these drugs have their greatest effects in the first few months, and begin to lose their effectiveness over time.
Humans have been tapping into the healing powers of music for thousands of years. Powerful stories and emerging research studies are increasingly demonstrating the therapeutic benefits of music, especially for people living with dementia.
Prescribing Music in Ancient Greece Famous Greek philosophers like Pythagoras, Hippocrates, and Artistotle played music for patients, prescribed songs as medicine, and described music as a tool to ease stress and purify emotions.
Using Music to Treat World War Soldiers During the First and Second World Wars, music therapy began to develop in the United States. Music was used in Veterans Hospitals for those with war injuries to help boost spirits and relieve pain. Doctors and nurses witnessed the effect music had on veterans' physical and mental well-being.
Universities Develop Music Therapy Academic Program In 1944, Michigan State was the first university to establish an academic program to train people how to use music for therapeutic purposes. Music Therapy has been growing since; today there are thousands of certified music therapists and a large number of academic programs across top universities.
New York Times Best Seller Explains Healing Power of Music Starting early in the new millennium, the idea of using music to help people suffering from neurological conditions began to gain popularity. In 2007, Oliver Sacks, M.D. published Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain - a best-selling book that explains how music can help people move, speak, and enjoy life - even when medication can not.
A Brown University study shows personalized music decreases behavioral issues for people with dementia From 2012 to 2013, researchers from Brown University observed 98 match-pair nursing homes; the intervention group provided personalized music to residents. The nursing homes that provide music saw a greater reduction in behavioral issues and the use of anti-psychotic medications.
Award winning documentary shows how music can spark joy In 2014, Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory - a documentary film that shows how music can spark joy in people with dementia - won the Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Scenes from the film have inspired millions and fuel ongoing efforts to make personalized music a standard of dementia care.
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease Suggests Promising Results for Caregivers with Music Routines A 2017 paper in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reviewed 28 studies that used pre-recorded music with people with dementia; results suggest that music can be effective in reducing a variety of symptoms, in particular agitation, even when a trained music therapist is not present. The research suggests that studies in which caregivers made music part of their routines showed promising results.
Research Shows Personal Music Activates the Brain Using a functional MRI, researchers from the University of Utah scanned people with dementia to image the regions of the brain that lit up when they listened to 20-second clips of music versus silence. The results, which were published in April 2018 in the Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, show that personally familiar music activates the brain, causing whole regions to communicate and have higher functional connectivity.
- Dr. Norman Foster -
Director of the Center for Alzheimer's Care and Imaging Research at University of Utah
Using music as part of your caregiving routine can not only enhance mood and improve quality of life for your loved one, but it can also help you prevent and lessen stressful situations.
Learn how to incorporate music into your loved one's routine by downloading a free copy of Music for Alzheimer's and Dementia: A How-to Guide for Care Teams, and following step-by-step instructions from caregiving experts.
When caring for a person with memory loss, getting others involved can be very beneficial for you and your loved one. Whether you are inviting family and friends to visit, participating in community programs, or working with professional caregivers - establishing music routines can help you successfully include others.
The Music for Alzheimer's and Dementia guide provides step-by-step instructions to help care teams develop personalized playlists and listening solutions.
Resources for Exploring Music:
Resources for Saving Music Playlist:
Resources for Establishing Music Routines:
"I've been caring for my mom for the past 8 years, and we use music daily. Over time, our routines have changed, but one thing has stayed the same - music helps mom feel like herself."
"I was skeptical that music would work for my mom, but my son-in-law encouraged me and helped us get started. I was shocked when she started singing! Now it's one of our go-to activities; she lights up every time. "
"I've been caring for people with memory loss for years, and it can be very difficult - especially in the beginning. Having access to their favorite music makes it so much easier to get to know people, help them smile, and earn their trust."
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