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Three ways music therapy can help with memory care

Music is powerful. The notion that music can play a role in healing and behavior dates back to the works of Greek philosophers, Plato, and Aristotle. In the more than 2,000 years since their observations, the therapeutic value of music has been studied and implemented in a variety of settings and for a variety of purposes. With recollective, emotional, and physical responses spurred by lyric and melody, music can be an important part memory care programs and can be customized to an individual’s condition.

Read on to learn about three ways that music therapy can help with memory care:

1. Music can elicit an emotional response.

Hearing a song for the first time can evoke a strong reaction, give you chills, change, or define your life. With sadness, happiness, hope, and everything in between, music covers a diverse spectrum of emotions, with each song evoking a different feeling for everyone. Music therapy can bring a sense of joy and happiness across all stages of dementia. Music has also been shown to reduce stress and agitation with some patients, thus improving their overall mood.

2. Songs can help with memory recall.

Popular songs are catchy. They’re designed that way with a verse, chorus and hook. Someone living with dementia may not have heard a song in 50 years, but they may instantly recall the lyrics even after losing much of their long-term memory. Often songs can bring back fond memories of various stages of the patient’s life helping them to remember happier times.

Everyone has different taste in music, so it’s important to make sure that the patient listens to music that reminds them of their life. Understanding a person’s youth and background can help guide the music selection if a specific era or genres of music the patient likes is unknown. If a patient grew up in rural Texas in the fifties, for example music by Johnny Cash may bring back comforting memories of life working on the farm with Grandpa.

3. Music can stimulate a physical reaction.

In addition to evoking emotions and memory, playing music for those with memory impairments may also bring about a physical response. For some, this means singing along at their own pace if possible. Others may be capable of dancing in some fashion, which can give the individual physical closeness with others, providing comfort and a sense of security.

For some patients, actual dancing may not be possible; however, individuals who are in the later stages of dementia, may express their “dancing” with a simple move of the foot, or a smile. This can be an indicator of the positive impact music is having on both their mental and physical condition.

With a personalized approach, music can have a positive impact in many ways for those suffering with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. For more information on memory care services to preserve your loved one’s quality of life, click here. 

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