Whether you choose to associate songs with memories, like the first dance at your wedding or a playlist for a birthday party, or soak up the soundtrack subliminally while listening to the radio, music has the ability to create strong cognitive bonds and preserve memories due to its immense impact on emotions. Then, when you hear that song again later in life, it's common to be whisked back to that time in your memory. For people experiencing memory loss, this recollection is a precious gift. Music can greatly benefit anyone living with memory loss, and integrating music into everyday routines can be wonderfully therapeutic.
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How Music Benefits People Experiencing Memory Loss
According to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, music has the ability to stimulate the brain, positively shift moods, and encourage positive socialization.
Music is often complex, crafted with melodies and harmonies that are known to get stuck in our heads. This phenomenon, often referred to as earworms, is an example of spontaneous cognition. Music is innately stimulating and engaging multiple facets of our brains, both voluntarily and involuntarily. People with Alzheimer's, even those who are living in the 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.
Although Alzheimer's affects many parts of the human brain, studies have shown that the part of the brain linked to musical memories is often relatively unaffected by the disease. Because musical memories often remain intact for patients with Alzheimer's, music tends to have positive emotional and behavioral effects. Music's calming ability relieves and reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and agitation. This is a major mental health benefit of music therapy.
Additionally, music can facilitate social interaction and engagement among individuals with memory loss. Participating in group music therapy sessions, where individuals listen to and produce music collectively, can foster connections with others and alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Playing an instrument or singing in a group can enhance communication abilities and encourage socialization. Whether listening to or making music, it has a powerful positive effect on those living with memory loss.
How To Integrate Music Therapy Into Your Routine
The Mayo Clinic suggests thoughtfully choosing music and being mindful of your loved one's mood if you are exploring the benefits of music therapy with someone experiencing memory loss.
To achieve optimal benefits of music, you'll want to choose a genre of music that your loved one would enjoy. Are there particular songs, artists, or eras that would be more likely to evoke memories? Consider part of your loved one's life is most likely to be filled with pleasant memories. You may not know exactly the right songs to choose, so reach out to family members and friends of your loved one for assistance while you're creating the perfect playlists.
Over-stimulation often has a negative effect, so be mindful of your loved one's emotional responses. Remove competing noises from the environment, turn off the TV, and eliminate other distractions. If you want to create a calming effect, go with soothing music. If you're trying to encourage movement, try a more upbeat tune. If you see a positive response, bookmark that song in your playlist and use it again later.
Music is an incredibly powerful tool for people with memory loss, offering a host of benefits that enhance their cognitive, emotional, and social well-being. Whether grooving to a few favorite tunes or playing an instrument, incorporating music into your daily routine can significantly impact your loved one's quality of life. So let the tunes flow and tap into the power of music to elevate the day!
Sarasota Bay Club is a luxury, full-service retirement living community located right on Sarasota Bay. To hear more about all we have to offer, including our programs to serve seniors dealing with memory loss, please feel free to contact us.