The connection between music and memory has been researched by scientists for many years, and studies show that music has wonderfully positive effects on mood, movement and brain function for seniors. How many times have you found yourself listening to a favorite song from your youth and it brings back memories of happy times with family and friends? The whole reason for the study of music therapy and dementia is because music and memory go hand in hand, and using music for memory care can really help enrich the life of a person who is living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
The Cognitive Benefits of Music for Memory Care
Though Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia cause cognitive and memory decline, the areas of the brain that hold memories of music often remain undamaged. Using music for memory care is a way to access those areas. Studies also show that listening to music stimulates many different areas of the brain at the same time, such as those that control language, mood, sight, sound, touch and, of course, hearing. And stimulating many areas of the brain at once is a great way to help maintain brain function.
The Emotional Benefits of Music Therapy and Dementia
The benefits of music for seniors are more than just cognitive. Listening to music can reduce anxiety and depression, and not just for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, but for all seniors. It can ease stress, frustration and sadness. It can encourage someone to feel lighthearted and content. No matter their level of function, listening to music is fun and can make your loved one happy.
Using music in memory care for seniors can also provide a way to connect socially, especially for those who may be less able to communicate. Singing together, dancing, talking about the memories that the music brings to mind, even simply sharing the enjoyment of a song are all great ways to engage with a person living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, even while practicing social distancing during these uncertain times.
The Physical Benefits of Music for Seniors
Listening to music while exercising is common for a reason — it lifts the spirit and inspires movement. Whatever level of activity your loved one is capable of can be encouraged with music, whether it’s dancing, walking, or even just clapping hands or tapping feet. And the benefits to heart health, blood flow to the brain, and weight management are especially important for someone living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
To see the cognitive, emotional and physical benefits of music therapy change the lives of others, watch the trailer for “Alive Inside”, an acclaimed Sundance film that demonstrates music’s powerful ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self.
Getting Started Using Music for Memory Care
So how do you begin to use music in memory care for seniors? First, make a playlist. It’s important to choose music your loved one will enjoy and that will bring back long-term memories. Figure out the decades of their early adult years and search for songs that were popular during that time. Ask their friends and loved ones who knew them back then what they enjoyed listening to. If your loved one is religious, maybe they have fond memories of hymns or spiritual songs.
Be sure to choose a volume that is pleasing, given their level of hearing ability. Try to avoid commercials because they can be distracting. Pay attention to your loved one’s facial expressions and body language as the music plays. Notice the songs that get the best response, and play those songs more often.
Memory Care for Seniors at The Buckingham
The benefits of music for seniors are widely accepted, from general health benefits to music’s effectiveness in memory care. The dedicated memory care team at The Buckingham is specially trained in the connection between music therapy and dementia, and team members take pride in providing many music activities at all levels of living, with the ultimate goal of ensuring a fulfilling, meaningful and satisfying quality of life.
In fact, The Buckingham is a MUSIC & MEMORY® Certified Care Organization. MUSIC & MEMORY is a national initiative that uses custom, personally curated playlists to enliven resident spirits and tap into deep, heartfelt memories. Our certification ensures families that their loved ones will have access to the transformative, therapeutic benefits of personalized music and marks the organization’s commitment to person-centered care.
If you’d like to know more about the many ways our compassionate team at The Buckingham provides memory care for seniors, please don’t hesitate to contact us through our website, or call us at 713-979-3090.