The impact of music on Alzheimer’s Disease

The Importance of Music for People with Alzheimer’s

Hearing just a few bars of a familiar song can be powerful enough to take our minds to other places by bringing about feelings of nostalgia, calling up memories of the past, and evoking a multi-faceted and meaningful sets of emotions. 

Interacting with music, particularly music that is attached to memories in one way or another, can be an enjoyable hobby for seniors. In addition, music can also function as a practical tool for memory stimulation in seniors dealing with Alzheimer’s and the symptoms that come along with the disease.

The Power of Music

Research conducted over the last few decades has been able to provide insight into the nature of Alzheimer’s, and some studies have concluded that music has the ability to yield positive outcomes for brain activity and memory in seniors. Research findings indicate there are numerous ways music can have a positive impact the minds of seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Positive Emotions

Music can alter people’s moods in ways that can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety while increasing joy and jubilation. Hearing a song that has an upbeat tempo or one that is associated with a positive memory can bring happiness into a senior’s day, while calming songs can have an equally powerful soothing effect.

Music Appreciation

The ability to appreciate and enjoy the sounds, rhythms, beats, and lyrics that make up a musical composition is among the last things to remain as Alzheimer’s continues to cause deterioration in the brain. It is for this reason that music can remain present as a meaningful tool for communication or connection for seniors with Alzheimer’s, when a great number of their other capabilities have been reduced as a result of the disease.

Evoking Emotion and Memory
Music can bring about emotions that come with deeply powerful memories. Integrating music into activities throughout the duration of the day can help facilitate the creation of new memories and associations. While new songs can help forge new connections and memories, the old classics can provide seniors the opportunity to reminisce. In this way music can help both to call forth pleasant memories from the past, and improve cognitive ability and daily rhythm over time.

Mental Engagement

Music has the ability to stimulate multiple areas of the brain in ways that are important to helping seniors with Alzheimer’s engage with the people and places that surround them. Singing along to songs activates the left side of the brain, while listening engages the right side, creating circumstances in which numerous aspects of the mind become engaged and utilized at once.

Bringing People Closer

Notions of connectivity can be more difficult to achieve when Alzheimer’s is involved, but when seniors still have some degree of mobility, music can lead to dancing or other forms of creative movement that can help seniors to physically connect with those around them through the sensation of touch.

Why Music?

Since listening to and interacting with music does not require an overly high level of cognitive function, means that it is an available and accessible activity for seniors with Alzheimer’s. It can allow them the opportunity to work out their minds, connect with others, and enhance their own feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Minimal cognitive or mental processing skills are required, because responses to beats and rhythm are automatic and instinctive reactions connected to the motor centre of the brain.

Health Benefits of Music

Music can be implemented in a variety of ways to increase cognition and deliver pleasure. Some practical daily applications for music might be:

  • Start the day on a positive note – music can set the tone for day with an uplifting track in the morning
  • Combine music with physical exercise
  • Breaking up repetitive or problematic behaviour
  • Encouraging sing alongs
  • Winding things down in the evening – calming music can help alleviate sundowner’s symptoms

Turn on the Music

Music can behave as a truly meaningful resource for retaining and recalling older memories, creating new connections, and improving mood for seniors dealing with the various difficulties that come along with Alzheimer’s. Incorporating music in seniors’ daily lives in the context of their home environments, or at other activities in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, can be an accessible and effective way to add some vibrancy and interest into even the most mundane aspects of life.

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