The Impact of Music on Dementia

As a caregiver of a recently diagnosed Alzheimer parent, I have spent a great deal of time researching activities that may help in managing behavioral challenges and bringing my mom back to periods of reality.

The beauty of music has always been important.  I often reminisce about my days at Purdue University when I hear the tunes of Disco.  After a stressful day of work, I always turn to the radio or my iPod and lose myself momentarily into a different place.

Dr. Verna Benner Carson wrote a very interesting article on the magic of music in Alzheimer’s patients in October’s Caring magazine.  Her article gave me a new perspective of introducing music to my mother.  According to Carson, the power of music can evoke many of the same emotional responses from an individual with Alzheimer’s.  She suggests that it not only curtails challenging behaviors, but that it can promote cooperation in daily living skills such as bathing and dressing.

The power of music is just not exclusive for the patient with Alzheimer’s.  The research about the energy of music has been overwhelmingly positive for seniors with any kind of memory loss or in any type of care giving setting.

There are several ways to bring the joy of music back to your loved one.  Many caregivers feel comfortable singing to a patient while assisting with some of the challenging daily skills.  My comfort area is to bring music to my mother.  I purchased an inexpensive mini iPod shuffle and downloaded many of her favorite tunes from the 30’s and 40’s.  In addition, I purchased a big set of ear phones.  I have also made it a point to include her in all of the music programs her senior living community has to offer.  It has not been a coincidence that my mom has improved her compliance on basic skills, and appears to be more engaged in her surroundings.

There is a highly viewed YouTube video, Man in Nursing Home Reacts to Hearing Music from His Era,” the video alone confirms the beauty and impact of music with our senior population.  As a caregiver, giving music back to my mother gives me one additional tool to bring about a sense of peace and harmony to my mother.


About the author

I am passionate about sharing senior citizen news and resources discovered from both my profession and personal journey.

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