Using Music to Help Patients with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
The effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia can be devastating. But there is something that can help you and family members feel closer and more connected with the person you are caring for: music.
Music has long been said to have powerful effects on mood, well-being and health. In people with Alzheimer’s, music is still an effective way of communicating because the part of the brain responsible for musicality and musical memories remains relatively undamaged. But music isn’t just for the person you’re caring for. It can also lighten your mood, reduce your distress and just make you feel better all around.
That’s plenty of reasons to find some tunes. Here are our best tips for playing music for the person you’re caring for.
1) Think about their preferences.
Do you know their favorite song? Depending on the severity of their dementia, you may need to touch base with family members who know what their loved one liked to listen to. Then, find the music somewhere online such as YouTube and Pandora. Try to find a music service that doesn’t have commercials, which could cause confusion.
2) Consider the mood of the music.
When you want the person you’re caring for to be calm, you’ll want to play soothing music. This can add an element of relaxation to high-stress times such as meal-times and personal hygiene-times. When you want to encourage more activity, simply play music that is more upbeat. Music can help get both of you moving.
3) Pay attention to their responses.
You’ll likely be able to tell if they enjoy the music, or don’t. When you find songs that they particularly seem to enjoy and may even sing along to, play them often. For songs they don’t like, simply skip over them. Eventually, you’ll find the right mixture of music to keep your patient’s mood elevated.