The benefits of listening to music are wide-ranging and can be transformative. Not only are there cognitive, emotional, and social benefits to listeners of all ages, but music can be a powerful tool for stimulating memories and emotions in older adults.
Because of these benefits, music therapy has become very popular in senior care facilities for its uses in aiding residents with dementia.
What is dementia?
Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a disease itself, but rather a general term for the symptoms that affect a person’s cognitive functions, like memory and reasoning, to the extent that it interferes with daily life.
It is important to remember that all types of dementia are not the same. Though some, like Alzheimer’s, are more well known there are still several other kinds of dementia that are common, including Vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Frontotemporal dementia, and Parkinson’s dementia.
Though these forms of dementia start in different ways, there are several signs you can look out for to identify when you or a loved one are starting to experience dementia. Signs and symptoms may vary from person to person. Keep an eye out if you notice the person:
- Has difficulty paying attention
- Asks the same questions repeatedly
- Gets lost in familiar areas
- Has personality changes
- Has difficulty communicating
What is music therapy?
Music therapy, like other art therapies, uses the naturally mood-lifting properties of music to help people improve their mental health and overall well-being. A typical music therapy session may include composing music, lyric writing, discussing lyrics, playing an instrument, singing, listening to music, dancing, and more.
The benefits of music therapy for seniors
Over the years a large number of studies have verified the emotional, physical, cognitive and social benefits of music therapy in a variety of different populations. For seniors, music not only sparks joy in the moment but has a long list of additional benefits.
One of the most significant benefits of music therapy for seniors is an improvement in memory recall. Fortunately, long-term memory is one of the last things affected by dementia. This means that many seniors can use music to reach deep into their memories and produce recollections others may have thought were long gone. Plus, the ability to recall lyrics and sing along can also boost morale and pride.
Boost Mood & Reduce Stress
Music has long been used in everyday life as a way to soothe and uplift the spirit. This is especially true for those who suffer from dementia-induced anxiety, depression, or agitation. Studies show that music therapy can have a lasting effect on improving a person’s overall emotions, even outside of therapy sessions.
Movement & Dance
Seniors should try getting up and dancing during music therapy events. Aerobic exercise is good for everyone—but it’s especially good for seniors, who typically live sedentary lives. Tapping their feet or dancing in their chair can contribute to an improved mood.
Hearing familiar music and moving to its beat can be a great way to bring joy and happiness to seniors who may have become withdrawn and disconnected from the world, helping them to open up and connect with their peers in meaningful ways.
Encourages Social Interactions
Music is a great way to bring people together and make them feel good. When seniors listen to music in groups they are more likely to talk with one another and interact socially. Not only is it plain fun for them to sing along with songs they love from when they were young, but they often have a lot of stories to share too!
Premium Memory Care in Nashville
Blakeford Memory Care at Burton Court offers a full range of individualized services that promote physical and emotional well-being. That’s why our activities directors work hard to include music therapy, live music performances, and Music & Memory events in the daily lives of our residents.
We’re proud to deliver outstanding quality care for seniors with Alzheimer’s and Dementia in a home-like setting. To learn more, contact us.