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Music Therapy and the Impact on Memory Care for Seniors

Thursday, April 6th, 2017 2:09:15 PM
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If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another dementia related disease, then you may be aware of the later-stage developments of the disease and the benefits of memory care that includes music therapy. This type of treatment can be applied for dementia and similar illnesses to reduce isolation and to improve memory recall.

Music Therapy and Dementia

Music affects a certain area of the brain which is processed instantly due to the fact that recognition of music and familiar patterns requires little to no neural processing.  It has been shown to be successful in allowing for more effective communication between caregivers and memory care patients at varying stages.

In earlier stages of memory loss, it is encouraged to remain socially engaged with activities that involve dancing or movement. This is a good time to try new places, finding venues and allowing the person to establish a connection with music that the person liked in the past. For our grandparents today, think like Frank Sinatra or classic rock. If possible, karaoke is also a good idea.

As a person progresses to the moderate stages of their disease, music therapy is used often around the home as a background soundtrack to improve mode and to relax. Once a person can no longer go out of the home safely, dancing maybe replaced with walking or swaying.

As memory diseases develop, patient’s often undergo emotional withdrawal. Reductions in degeneration have been noticed for those using music earlier in their memory care process, but interestingly, it has been proven that even introducing music therapy in later stages can provide a positive effect.

In fact, some would say that this is where music therapy has made some of the most noticeable changes, mainly because when the treatment is included in late stage degeneration, there is an increased chance of lack of communication or being able to express wants and desires. It has been noted that once patients were introduced to the therapy at this stage by incorporating familiar music from their past and encouraging as much participation as within the patient’s capability.

Spreading the Word About Music Therapy

In 2008, Music and Memory was established as a solution to connect seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s to be able to have readily accessible playlists. They worked with caregiving facilities in New York to get iPads for seniors living with memory loss conditions. The results were outstanding and it proved to make a dramatic difference in the understanding and acceptance of the therapy. Then, in 2012, a documentary entitled Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory was released in America. The documentary detailed the improvements made by seniors, showing the work done by the organization that revolutionized access to this therapy. It acted as an educating tool and continues to foster a sense of acceptance and utilization of the music therapy benefits as part of a person’s memory care treatment.

References:

http://www.musictherapy.org/about/history/

https://www.alzfdn.org/EducationandCare/musictherapy.html

ComfortCare Homes of Wichita, KS provides memory care services to the following cities and neighborhoods:

Wichita, Derby, Augusta, El Dorado, Newton, Hutchinson, Pretty Prairie, Kingman, Norwich, Conway Springs, Belle Plaine, and the surrounding areas of Kansas.

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