Choices in Senior Care Blog

The Benefits of Music for People Living With Dementia

Posted by Brook Dickerson on Aug 14, 2015 10:54:06 AM

Many industry professionals favor using a form of therapy for dementia patients that involves therapeutic music and personalized playlists with iPods.

Dan Cohen, executive director of Music and Memory, has used his program in nursing homes throughout the country to help those struggling with dementia reconnect with the world through music-triggered memories.  The Music and Memory program taps into a dementia patient’s favorite music and songs that were once associated with important personal events, thus creating an individualized playlist on the patient’s own iPod.  Either the patient themselves, a patient's family member, or a staff member at the nursing home where the patient is located will decide the specific type of music (by genre or by artist) they want on each individual iPod.  Then the songs will be uploaded onto the iPod for each patient which, again, creates a personalized playlist.  Research has shown that chaotic brain activity begins to calm, and the result is that the listener begins to focus on the present moment and reconnect to the world and others with an overall improved quality of life. A documentary about Music and Memory’s work, titled “Alive Inside” was released in 2014.

Teepa Snow, one of America’s leading educators on dementia, promotes Alzheimer’s Music Connect, which is a non-pharmaceutical product that utilizes carefully selected music to unlock musical memories for those impacted by Alzheimer’s, while offering valuable respite for their caregivers.  Using a patent pending technology called Altus Oscillation, Alzheimer’s Music Connect adds calming Alpha waves with the ancient mantra OM sound, then combines them with music that is recognizable and well-known to the Alzheimer’s patient.  This results in a much more healing effect than music alone.

There are many therapeutic benefits of personalized and enhanced music to the dementia/Alzheimer’s patient with programs such as the ones mentioned above:

  • Increased attention and cooperation
  • Enhanced socialization and engagement
  • Greater alertness to the present moment
  • Increased symmetrical brain activity
  • Reduced reliance on anti-psychotic medications
  • Offers a pleasurable activity for persons in dialysis, on a vent, or bed-bound
  • Addresses all five domains of functioning (physical, cognitive/psychological, communication, social, and emotional)
  • Allows caregivers to take a much-needed personal break

For a peek into the work done by Music and Memory, watch a preview for the film “Alive Inside”

More information on Alzheimer’s Music Connect

Written by Marcy Pennington, Gerontologist

Tags: aging, alternative therapy, Alzheimer's, caregiving, quality of life, Therapy, Dementia, eldercare, memory care, music therapy

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