Music; it’s brought us to tears, it’s lifted our spirits. There’s no doubt music is an extremely powerful tool and – according to recent studies – has been proven to provide a way of breaking through to persons living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The staff at CareMalta, which provides care for the elderly in Malta, discuss some benefits music has on dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
1. It brings back memories and emotions
Everyone has songs that take them back to special times in their lives and a recent study shows that music can evoke emotion in even the most advanced of Alzheimer’s patients. In turn, emotion can trigger memory. Playing some of their favourite songs, particularly from their early 20s, can help them recall some of their happier moments. This is because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease.
2. Singing stimulates the brain
Listening to music sparks activity in the right side of the brain, while singing along requires the left side of the brain to become engaged. Therefore, Alzheimer’s patients who participate in sing-along sessions can exercise both sides of their brain while enjoying the moment. Watching the rest of the class activated visual areas of the brain. With so much of the brain being stimulated, these persons exercise more mind power than usual. Studies also show that such individuals have enhanced mental performance after singing!
3. Music can shift mood & help manage stress
Other than raising spirits, singing and listening to music releases feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and melatonin, which can alleviate stress and have a calming effect on agitated patients.
4. Music is enjoyable even in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s
It’s been proven that musical aptitude and appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in advanced Alzheimer’s patients, long after other cognitive skills have declined. Thus, music is an excellent way to reach beyond the disease and reach the person.
5. Music can help Alzheimer’s patients reconnect with loved ones
In the later stages of dementia, patients often lose the ability to share emotions with caregivers and because music can evoke such positive emotions, it can help Alzheimer’s patients share moments of joy with their loved ones. If they are able to dance, this often makes them want to hug their loved ones, which gives them a sense of security and may also trigger memories.
The best thing about singing and music is that it is free and requires no preparation, making it a great and effortless therapy!
At CareMalta, we don’t give up on persons living with dementia and Alzheimer’s. We engage our patients with activities and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve in all 8 of our retirement homes in Malta.