Humans have believed in the power of music for thousands of years. Music transcends language and culture, communicating emotions and connecting us in a way that words cannot. Research over the last few decades has found that music is more powerful than we ever imagined. When it comes to seniors, music can be as beneficial as medicine.
Multiple studies have found that music is an effective pain reliever, and it can work on its own or along with other forms of therapy. Along with managing chronic pain, music therapy has been associated with reduced use of pain relievers and a better quality of life. Music appears to disrupt the brain’s pain-stress-pain feedback loop, altering a person’s perception of the physical pain.
Music therapy is often used to help elderly people with dementia and Alzheimer’s, although it’s also helpful for helping stroke victims recover sooner.
Many studies have found that people who listened to their favorite music while recovering from a stroke were able to regain their ability to communicate and recognize words faster than people who listened to audiobooks or nothing. Music was also found to decrease confusion and depression among stroke victims.
There are several ways caregivers can help loved ones recover or improve their quality of life at home:
As populations of developed nations age, so the number of cases of dementia increases. As a way of helping care for and support people with dementia, music has been shown to often have a dramatic effect.
Whether it’s 60s soul or 80s pop, operatic arias or songs from the shows, music can soothe, stimulate and bring to mind long-forgotten memories.
Dementia is rapidly becoming the health and social care challenge of the 21st century. Numbers affected are set to soar because of an expanding older population.
The total number of people with dementia in the US is predicted to be in excess of 3m by 2021. So, while there are no long-term cures, ways of alleviating symptoms are becoming more available and accessible.
The power of music, especially singing, to unlock memories and kickstart the grey matter is an increasingly key feature of dementia care. It seems to reach parts of the damaged brain in ways other forms of communication cannot.
We know that the auditory system of the brain is the first to fully function at 16 weeks, which means that you are musically receptive long before anything else. So it’s a case of first in, last out when it comes to a dementia-type breakdown of memory.
Many music students throughout the United States, as well as more experienced musicians, now regard care home visits as part of their learning experience. As well as being enormously beneficial to those with various forms of dementia and their caregivers, they can also be helpful and rewarding for the musicians themselves.
The relaxing and restorative power of music is amazingly illustrated in the lives of seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Read on to learn about the many benefits of music, as well as ways to integrate music therapy into the life of your aging loved one.
The Healing Power of Music
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine revealed that music therapy leads to increased secretion levels of “feel-good” brain chemicals, including melatonin, serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and prolactin in Alzheimer’s patients.
The results are manifold: music can boost mood, reduce stress and agitation, foster positive interactions, coordinate motor function, and even facilitate cognition. How? Even as the disease progresses and cognitive function declines, the human brain still naturally responds to music. And the benefits continue long after the music stops playing.
Music As a Tool
Music can also be used to foster a particular mindset or mood. For example, “fast” music may encourage movement while “slow” songs can have a sedative effect. In partnership with daily activities, the right background music can guide behaviors and responses.
Unfamiliar music can also play a vital role in music therapy. New songs can be used to develop beneficial responses, such as sleep enhancement and stress management. Music can also be used during exercise and physical therapy sessions to help promote balance and concentration.
When individuals with advanced dementia become frustrated or overwhelmed by the inability to communicate and/or environmental stimuli, music continues to be a valuable tool. Gentle music can help calm agitation and refocus negative behaviors into positive activity.
Even in the later stages of dementia and when all human interactions fail, older adults can still connect with music. Listening to music together, meanwhile, creates critical opportunities for connection between caregivers and patients alike.
Music therapy has been used for centuries to relieve stress and promote a sense of well-being. By incorporating music into the life of your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you can help him/her experience its many profound benefits.
Music can help a person in a number of ways, especially those with dementia. From playing an instrument to listening to tunes to even engaging with the music, it all has benefits to dementia suffering patients.
Learning to plan an instrument increases brain activity, provides new and novel learning and can be used as a form of therapy. Already play an instrument? Try to learn new songs and challenge yourself!
Music is very powerful and can spark memories and feelings. Playing and listening to music can also improve one’s mood and even help with managing stress. By playing an instrument, it helps a person coordinate motor movements and promote cognitive functions. Engaging in music can also help associate memories and emotions.
Many times, using music as therapy shows positive effects and people with dementia create a strong connection with the music. Always observe how music impacts a person, you never want negative outcomes, just positive ones.
Another way to use music is to help comfort and relax patients. Lullabies are soothing for bedtime and sedative music can help calm agitation that often occurs due to the frustration of dementia. On top of being used a calming mechanism, music can also stimulate a person’s mood. Childhood songs encourages engagement and movement by singing, dancing or even talking about the memories the songs bring.
Music also can help people open up more about their thoughts and emotions. Some songs encourage them to sing, while others encourage them to get up and dance. Plus, it could boost their curiosity causing them to join a dance class or attend concerts. Socializing in a comfortable way is important for dementia patients and music can be the perfect way to boost interaction.
You can sing, dance, play music or just listen to it to get the benefits of music. It is a great tool to be used as therapy with dementia patients because it provides good memories. It is also a way to get the brain and body active!
At Home Health Solutions Group, we encourage all our caregivers, our patients and their families to sing, listen to music and enjoy your favorite music as a great recipe for longevity.
Contact us at www.homeeldercareflorida.com / 786-991-2300