How does music make you feel? Think about some of your favorite songs. What are some special times that you associate with certain songs? Music can shape our emotions and provoke our memories because it is embedded deep in our brains. Because music is so deeply ingrained in our brains, sometimes singing can be easier than talking for a person with dementia. Studies show that music can help persons with dementia in many cognitive areas and help them with agitation and behavioral issues.
Listening to music is a terrific way to socialize and offers people with Alzheimer’s disease opportunities to express their emotions. It can help them to reminisce about the past and draw out those retained memories. Consider lullabies or “our song” that was shared with a loved one. Christmas carols can bring back memories of past holidays and traditions. Hymns or religious songs may play an important role to someone with dementia. Music can help them to access and recall those past memories.
There are also many physical advantages of listening to music. It can lower blood pressure, respiration and decrease pain levels. Music has been shown to positively affect gait and increase range of motion. Repetitive movements in people with dementia now become purposeful when we add the beat of the music. Did you know that dancing to music is the only thing that stimulates every part of the brain?
At Kirk’s Place (Wesley Willows Memory Care Center), our staff uses a Music and Memories program – an innovative approach to dementia care— to work one on one with residents.