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4 Ways to Harness the Power of Good Music to Mitigate Memory Loss

by Frank Herold
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Memories are meant to stay around forever, but sometimes we don't get to control which memories do as memories tend to fade. Fortunately, music has been proven to help mitigate the damaging effects of memory loss. By harnessing its power for good, you can help your loved ones stay connected to their most cherished memories.

Related Blog: GREAT APPS FOR PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA OR ALZHEIMER'S

The Power of Music for Memory

According to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, music has the ability to shift moods and stimulate positive interactions. People with Alzheimer's, even those who are suffering from late stages of the illness, have been known to realize facilitated cognitive function and coordinated motor movements when music therapy was used properly in their presence.

Because musical memories often remain intact for patients of Alzheimer's, music tends to have positive emotional and behavioral effects on those who are battling the illness. 

The calming effect is one of the benefits of music that is often as advantageous to caregivers as it is to the patients themselves, allowing a more peaceful interaction facilitated by a reduction in stress, anxiety, depression, and agitation.

4 Ways to Harness the Power of Good Music to Mitigate Memory Loss

Although music therapy is not a cure, these four steps can have positive effects on the behavior, mood, and quality of life of those suffering from memory loss. 

1. Create Personalized Playlists

Bearing in mind the total life experience of your friend, family member, or loved one, create a personalized playlist that best encompasses their musical history. 

  • Hits and standards from different decades of their lives
  • Songs that meant a lot to them personally 
  • Favorite artists and albums

Keep these personalized playlists handy, allowing for easy access. 

2. Connect Music to Memories

When a certain song from the playlist seems to spark something in your loved one, feel free to pull the conversational thread to see where it leads. If they remark that they've always loved this song, consider moving the conversation forward in one of the following ways:

  • "Do you enjoy dancing to this?"
  • "What other songs do you love by this artist?"
  • "Shall we sing along together?"

The goal is not necessarily to try to get them to remember facts or details (as a matter of fact, you should steer clear of questions that start with "Do you remember...") but to allow them space to process any memories that may be bubbling up as a result of hearing an old, familiar favorite. 

3. Use Music as a Bridge

Often, one of the most painful aspects of staying connected with loved ones who suffer memory loss is that there seem to be fewer and fewer ways to stay connected. As shared memories decrease, so do our chances to find things to talk about. Fortunately, music can prove a bridge to keep those connections alive. 

If your loved one seems distant or out of sorts during a visit, starting your social time together with some good music that you both enjoy gives you a way to get the conversational ball rolling without having to work too hard. 

4. Sing Along and Bond

According to the Mayo Clinic, while playing music is helpful for those suffering from memory loss, singing along with favorite songs brings added benefits:

Singing along to music together with your loved one can boost the mood and enhance your relationship. Some early studies also suggest musical memory functions differently than other types of memory, and singing can help stimulate unique memories.

So queue up your favorite standards, hit play, and enjoy singing along together.  


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