Which precious moments in your life have a soundtrack?
The first dance at your wedding, a memorable party, or even lullabies sung to you by a parent. Music can transport us, returning us to those beautiful moments long after they occurred. The power of music is so strong, in fact, that it may even be able to transcend conditions like Alzheimer’s.
What the Research Says
The impact of music on Alzheimer’s patients has not yet been widely researched, but it’s an area that shows enormous promise. One systematic review published in the National Library of Medicine found that music was beneficial in treating memory deficits, and another published by Frontiers concluded that music had ‘unambiguous’ beneficial effects on the health of individuals with Alzheimer’s. These benefits were seen in memory, cognition, social behavior, mood, and quality of life.
Potential Benefits of Music for Seniors with Alzheimer’s
While the benefits of music for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia have not yet been thoroughly explored, many senior living communities report a positive impact of the arts on those with neurocognitive conditions.
Expressing Feelings and Finding Social Connection
Music can evoke strong emotions and encourage personal expression for people of all ages. Some studies have found that music can help improve behavioral issues and reduce agitation in individuals in the middle to late stages of Alzheimer’s. A shared love of music or a common interest in a particular artist can also be an excellent way for seniors to socialize and form connections. Interestingly, some seniors with Alzheimer’s can still sing or hum along to their favorite songs long after they cannot communicate verbally. Therefore, music can be a great tool to help Alzheimer’s patients connect with others later in their disease.
Encouraging Physical Activity
Encouraging dance or seated movement and regular musical activities could help seniors reap the benefits of physical activity. The benefits of exercise for seniors include counteracting bone density loss, improving cardiovascular health, relieving joint stiffness, and improving mood. Regular exercise may help slow cognitive decline and aid in preventing chronic diseases that become ever more common in older age.
Helping Them Reminisce
Have you ever listened to a song and immediately been transported back to a significant memory? Music is a gateway between the past and present, which is no different for those with dementia. For many seniors with Alzheimer’s, music can be an excellent method of retrieving memories and improving recall. This can, in turn, open the doors for reminiscing, a powerful tool in supporting those with Alzheimer’s and other neurocognitive conditions.
In fact, reminiscence therapy is a popular tool used to enrich the lives of memory care residents in senior living communities. Reminiscing can help alleviate depression by allowing seniors to rediscover fond memories and share fascinating life stories with friends and caregivers. Many seniors with dementia enjoy looking back and sharing stories and knowledge; it can be a profoundly empowering and social exercise.
Promoting Feelings of Peace and Calm
Playing relaxing music can be a great way to reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, or stress in seniors with dementia. It can even provide a soothing distraction during physical discomfort, like grooming or medical procedures.
Incorporating Music into Daily Life
Whether your relative with dementia is living at home or in a senior care community, there are many simple ways to weave music into their daily routine, including:
- Listening or singing along to their favorite songs together.
- Encouraging them to join a choir or singing group (this can be a great way to socialize, too).
- Creating a playlist of nostalgic songs from their youth.
- Watching and singing along to a musical together.
- Encouraging them to rediscover an old musical hobby (e.g., playing an instrument).
Music at Alpine View Lodge Assisted Living
As a leading San Diego memory care provider, we see the therapeutic benefits of music for seniors with dementia firsthand. We deliver a range of dancing, singing, and musical activities for residents to enjoy independently or with friends. We also host regular music-focused social events, including concerts for guests like local choirs and musicians. These events spark joy, inspiration, and social connection in our residents and foster a sense of connection to the community by supporting talented local artists.
Though further scientific Research is needed, the impact of music on those with dementia can often be seen simply by visiting a memory care or senior living community. To discover the creative and musical activities we host for our senior residents, get in touch via our website or give us a call to organize a tour. Let us know if your loved one is interested in a specific activity or event! We will schedule a visit at a time when they can take a look or get involved.