The Importance of Music for People with Alzheimer’s
The simple act of hearing even just a few bars of a familiar song can be powerful enough to take our minds to other places by bringing about feelings of nostalgia, calling up memories of the past, and evoking multi-faceted and meaningful sets of emotions. Interacting with music, particularly music that is attached to memories in one way or another, can be an enjoyable hobby for seniors, but it can also work as a tool for memory stimulation in seniors dealing with Alzheimer’s and the symptoms that come along with the disease.
Music Has Power
Research that has been conducted over recent decades has been able to provide further insight into the nature of Alzheimer’s, and this research has been able to conclude that music has the ability to yield positive outcomes for brain activity and memory in seniors. The following list is made up of a series of reasons researchers consider music to be able to impact the minds of seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s:
- Positive Emotions: Music can alter people’s moods in ways that can help to reduce feelings of stress or anxiety, and increase joyfulness. Hearing a song that has an upbeat tempo or one that is associated with a positive memory can bring happiness into a senior’s day, while calming songs can have an equally powerful soothing effect.
- Music Appreciation: The ability to appreciate and enjoy the sounds, rhythms, beats, and lyrics that make up songs is among the last things to remain as people dealing with Alzheimer’s deteriorate. It is for this reason that music can remain present as a meaningful tool for communication or connection for seniors with Alzheimer’s when a great number of their other capabilities have been reduced as a result of the disease.
- Evoking Emotion and Memory: Music can bring about emotions that come with deeply powerful memories. Integrating music into activities throughout the duration of the day can help to facilitate the creation of new memories and associations through hearing and making connections to new songs, while familiar songs can provide seniors the opportunity to reminisce. In this way music can help both to call forth pleasant memories from the past, and improve cognitive ability and daily rhythm over time.
- Engagement: Music has the ability to stimulate multiple areas of the brain in ways that are important to helping seniors with Alzheimer’s engage with the people and places that surround them. Singing along to songs activates the left side of the brain, while listening engages the right side, creating circumstances in which numerous aspects of the mind become engaged and utilized at once.
- Bringing People Closer: Notions of connectedness can be more difficult to achieve when Alzheimer’s is involved, but when seniors still have some degree of mobility, music can lead to dancing or other forms of creative movement that can help seniors to physically connect with those around them through the sensation of touch.
The simple reality that listening to, and interacting with, music does not require a high level of cognitive functioning means that it is an available and accessible activity for seniors with Alzheimer’s that can allow them the opportunity to work out their minds, connect with others, and better their own feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Minimal cognitive or mental processing skills are necessitated, because people’s responses to rhythm and other aspects of music are automatic and instinctive reactions connected to the motor centre of the brain.
Turn on the Music
Music can behave as a truly meaningful resource and tool for retaining and recalling older memories, creating new connections, and improving mood for seniors dealing with the various difficulties that come along with Alzheimer’s. Involving music in seniors’ daily lives in the context of their home environments, or at other activities in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, can be an accessible and special way to add some vibrancy and interest into even the most mundane aspects of life.