Music is a wonderful therapeutic tool used to stimulate various areas of the brain in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. A research team from the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center believes there are multiple reasons music is an effective means of connecting with seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease. Music can trigger memories associated with emotions and stimulate certain regions of the brain associated with repetitive and routine activities. Here are a few ways music facilitates Alzheimer’s care.
1. Alters the Mood
Playing music can calm seniors who are exhibiting irritation or agitation. Some seniors might relax when hearing a classical or instrumental piece, while others might prefer music with spiritual significance. Select upbeat songs to put your loved one in a better mood. The melody might be something that relates to childhood, early adulthood, or another pleasant time in your loved one’s life.
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2. Promotes Social Bonding
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, seniors may have difficulty remembering faces and names. By playing music once enjoyed with friends or family members, special memories may reemerge. Music can also spark conversations about memories related to past events or people, which enables family members and friends to reconnect with their senior loved ones and make new memories. Consider having a family meal together and playing some music in the background. Later, watch favorite musical movies together.
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3. Encourages Physical Activity
Your loved one’s favorite upbeat music might get him or her up and dancing. Encourage your loved one to perform some simple exercises while listening to music that makes him or her happy. Take care of some basic household tasks together while the tunes play in the background. Prepare a meal, do the dishes, or get the laundry done.
4. Stimulates Personal Expression
Many older people with Alzheimer’s disease enjoy working on crafts, coloring, painting, and needlework. To stimulate your loved one’s creative side, consider playing music in the background. Choose songs that encourage a positive mood or stimulate a peaceful calm.
5. Triggers Memories
Create a game using songs. Challenge family members to listen to a few lines of a song and continue the lyrics once you stop the music. Depending on your loved one’s cognitive ability, the game might involve naming the tune or the artist who sings the song. Reward correct answers with special treats or small tokens. Consider dividing family members into teams consisting of multiple generations to increase the challenge for all. When hearing unfamiliar music, more areas of the brain activate to identify tone, tempo, and lyrics.
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