Music is a truly powerful thing in this world. It has the ability to make you feel happy, sad, angry, excited, heartbroken, and bring back treasured memories. It can be therapeutic for your soul, spirit and mind, with benefits ranging from memory improvement among older adults to drastic stress relief and much more. In fact, research has found that listening to music can:
- Reduce your pain levels, anxiety and blood pressure.
- Improvement with your mood, memory, sleep quality and mental alertness (especially for those living with dementia or other forms of memory impairment).
Moreover, benefits of listening to music for seniors living with dementia include:
- Improvements with your mood, speech, balance, attention, cognition, motor skills, executive functioning and short-term and working memory.
- Enhanced quality of life.
- Less difficulty remaining fixed and oriented in time and place.
For those who have family members with dementia, music is a way to stimulate memories, and it can 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. Childhood songs can stimulate memories and encourages engagement and movement.
It doesn’t matter if you sing or dance or simply listen to music. Any one of these can bring joy, or peacefulness or happy memories. Talking about the memories the songs bring up is a way to have a lovely conversation with your loved one.
There are several ways caregivers can help loved ones recover or improve their quality of life at home:
- Play music that was popular when your loved one was in his or her 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.
- Incorporate music into a daily routine. A good example is playing music with a slow tempo before bed or in the afternoon to help a loved one relax.
- Attend local concerts together.
- Sign up for music classes or music therapy sessions.
- For people with dementia, try playing music as the person walks to improve gait or as background music to improve mood.
- Play fast tempo music during walks to stimulate the heart and brain.
Music is a wonderful way to stir up memories and bring about conversation with our loved ones, whether they have dementia or not. Give it a try, let us know how it helped your family or patient.