Music has a healing power that researchers have found is effective for those who have dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Music therapy is a non-pharmacological approach that includes singing and listening to music. It's been used by music therapists and other health professionals, and a recent study found those who engaged in a 40-minute session twice a week improved their positive effect score and decreased their negative effect score, which the researchers suggest may indicate an effective intervention in improving quality of life.
Music and Medicine
In his book Musicophelia, neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote that music is not a luxury but a necessity with the power to restore. More than 5 million people in the U.S. suffer from Alzheimer's disease, and this number does not include those who suffer from other forms of dementia. In another study from George Mason University, researchers found those who regularly sang improved their mental acuity over a four-month period. Another found even late-stage sufferers could respond to songs that were once meaningful to them. Music therapy programs are becoming a part of care across the country. One group in Minneapolis formed a choir to help those living with Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.
Music and Emotion
Music therapy has been an effective means of treatment in those who have suffered a brain injury, as well. Music has a relationship with emotions that are activated through music and movement. Even when clients cannot remember who they are, music can touch their memory and mood. Music therapist has found those with dementia improve memory recall, enjoy the better mood and emotional states and gain a sense of control over their life, all while using a non-pharmacological management that stimulates interest and helps produce the structure. Each of these benefits gives someone with dementia the opportunity to interact socially with others, which is one of the most difficult things dementia takes away from your clients.
Bringing Music Home
Not only is this form of treatment popular, but it's also effective. Music therapy can help produce more melatonin, serotonin, and prolactin in the brains of people who have Alzheimer's, which raises moods and facilitates improved cognition.
As a caregiver, you'll start first by talking with family to find your client’s favorite songs. These can then be added to any one of several music apps available for smartphones. Sing Fit is a therapy app designed specifically for those with dementia. Spotify can be also be used to develop a playlist of some of their favorite songs.
Consider singing and playing consistent songs each time, your client wakes up in the morning or during activities of daily living such as showering, brushing their teeth, or getting dressed. Singing and music can also be used to distract in the afternoons when clients with dementia get anxious or angry. Families are often relieved by the improved quality of life or loved one’s experience and the knowledge their last years are not spent in a dark place unable to communicate as they suffer from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
Try Music With Your Clients
At Harmony, we are focused on giving our home care professionals the best support and information to assist their clients in their journey through life. We would love for you to join our team. Contact our professional recruiters today, and let’s get the music started!