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Dementia & Memory Care: How Music Can Help

Alvita Care helps support those whose loved ones may have Alzheimer’s or Dementia in New York City & Long Island.

Smiling pleased senior man playing pianoWhile there are many tips and tricks to help elderly individuals cope with dementia, the use of music can be a powerful tool. When an individual suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia listens to music, it can act as both a soothing method and a stimulant on one’s brain. Within your brain, music can be processed on multiple different levels. Not only can it help someone remember an event or a time period in their life and stimulate memory, but it can also soothe the mind and help your loved one think of a happy moment or recollection.

Even in the later stages of dementia, music can bring out a response in elderly individuals, and it has been proven to be effective, especially as a method for coping. Within the brain, the auditory cortex and the limbic system are where emotion is expressed. When these two areas are linked together, sound can be processed and then associated with a memory and the emotions of that memory. At Alvita Care, we encourage loved ones and caregivers to listen to music with those you care for whom may be suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. In some instances, it has also been found that individuals who may have brain or nerve damage, when listening to music, regain some pieces of their memory or the ability to speak in simple phrases as a result of listening to music. While we are not stating that this is the case for all individuals, there are instances where it has been possible.

Music can help to reduce depression, agitation, and problems with one’s mood.

Additionally, it has been shown to increase an individual’s social skills, movement, and cognitive abilities. Furthermore, in individuals approaching the last stages of Alzheimer’s, listening to music has been shown to strengthen links between one’s part of the brain that processes language and the opposite part of the brain that processes music. This is especially relevant as not all areas of the brain are severely damaged even during the final stages of Alzheimer’s. The hippocampus is another area of the brain that can be strengthened by encouraging your loved ones to listen to music. This part of the brain retains one’s long-term memory and is accessed when someone’s emotions are touched upon, especially through music.

Alzheimer’s and dementia can be extremely hard on elderly individuals’ family members.

At Alvita Care, we believe music can be incorporated through song, dance, or even as simple as listening to an older familiar song on the radio with your loved one. Music therapy is another up-and-coming area of expertise that can be greatly beneficial in elderly individuals. We can define “music therapy” as using music and the art of music to help heal an individual. This is a much more modern practice that began after the second world war and is extremely popular today.

In the United States today, over 50 music therapy programs are accredited nationwide. Additionally, a few different types of music therapy are practiced active vs. passive therapy. Passive music therapy involves listening to music either on the radio or in person with your loved one. Active music therapy, on the other hand, can use real instruments like drums, harps, harpsichords, or one’s voice to introduce music and stimulate an individual’s brain. Active therapy can have increased physical and mental benefits for an individual, but at Alvita Care, we encourage you and your loved one to research both methods to see what would be best for you.

While music therapy may not work for all individuals, it is worth looking into to learn more about its purpose and benefits when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. For more information on dementia or Alzheimer’s disease specifically, you can check out our Memory Care services in NYC and Long Island. We have many articles and information dedicated specifically to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that may be beneficial in answering your questions. Additionally, the American Music Therapy Association has a listen of music therapists that are certified in your area. You can find their website at www.musictherapy.org.

Music is a wonderful thing and can be proven to enhance elderly individuals’ well-being. This is true not only for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia but for all individuals, old and young. Please feel free to call us at Alvita Care with any additional questions regarding home care for Alzheimer’s and dementia and how music can be introduced into your loved one’s daily routine at 212-273-0490.