Alzheimer’s and Music
Few things are more effective in drawing forth a pleasant memory or facilitating a walk down memory lane than the sound of a familiar song. Listening to music, particularly when it is nostalgic or attached to memories from the past, can be an enjoyable activity for seniors, but can also be a meaningful tool for stimulating memory in individuals dealing with Alzheimer’s and its associated symptoms.
What Music Can Do
Research over recent decades has brought to light the power that interaction with music can have upon brain activity and memory in seniors. The following list is made up of a series of reasons researches believe music has the capacity to effect the minds of seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s:
- Evoking Emotion and Memory: Music has the ability to make us feel emotion, and with those emotions can come powerful memories. Integrating music into daily activities can help to create memories and associations through the sound of the new songs, while familiar songs can remind seniors of pleasant times gone by. In this way, music can help both to draw forth happy memories from the past, and to improve cognitive ability and daily rhythm over time.
- Music Appreciation: The capacity to enjoy and appreciate the sound, rhythm, beat, and lyrics of music is among the last things to remain as individuals facing Alzheimer’s experience deterioration. For this reason, music can become a meaningful way to communicate or connect with seniors with Alzheimer’s when many of their other abilities have been lost to the disease.
- Engagement: Music is able to stimulate various areas of the brain in important ways that help seniors with Alzheimer’s to engage with the world around them. Singing along activates the left side of the brain, while listening engages the right side, creating a circumstance in which a great deal of the mind’s capacities become engaged and exercised at once.
- Positive Emotions: Music has the power to enable shifts is mood that can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and increase happiness. Playing a song with an upbeat tempo or one that has happy memories attached to it can bring joy into a senior’s day, while soothing songs can facilitate a sense of calm.
Bringing People Closer: Alzheimer’s can often make it more difficult to feel connected, but in cases where seniors still have some degree of mobility, music can facilitate dancing or other movement that can help seniors to connect with those around them physically through touch.
The fact that listening to, and interacting with, music does not require a high level of cognitive functioning makes is an accessible means through which seniors with Alzheimer’s can exercise their minds, connect with others, and improve their own sense of joy and wellbeing. Minimal cognitive or mental processing skills are required, as a result of the fact that our responses to rhythm and other aspects of music are automatic and instinctive reactions associated with the motor centre of the brain.
Turn on the Tunes
Music is, in essence, a powerful tool that can help to maintain existing memories, create new associations, improve mood, and facilitate connections for seniors navigating the difficulties of Alzheimer’s. Integrating music into the routines of your senior loved ones at home, or at other activities, can be an accessible and meaningful way to add colour and interest to routine aspects of life.