Music Therapy in Dementia Patients

Music“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato.

Music is everywhere and in some cases it’s attached to everything inside us. For others, it’s sound that travels around the room and is nice to listen to every once in a while. For patients with dementia however, music can be the key to bring back memories they didn’t know existed.

The many benefits of listening to music are highly engaging and positive with those suffering from dementia. Some of the benefits include; memory recall, physical movement, encouraging changes in mood, management of pain and discomfort, and the ability to interact with others in a social manner.

When listening to a certain song from ten years ago, it takes you right back to where you were when that song came out. For aging seniors with dementia, listening to old wartime song takes them back to a time and place they felt very strongly about; a time when everything around them was affected by the war. Listening to big band songs stimulates and engages senses that haven’t been engaged for years!

Music can also create interest in being social. Think about nearly every event you attend. There’s always music playing in the background. Music provokes feelings that for some may bring out their social side. Common music interests spark a conversation between two, three, four people or maybe even more. It brings them back to a place when they were young and had much in common. Music creates conversation among people whether it’s about the music in general or a time when memories flowed like water.

Research indicates that music stimulates emotions through specific brain circuits. Even listening to sad music can boost someone’s mood. A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to upbeat music could improve their moods and boost their happiness in just two weeks. In this study, they found that happiness has been linked to better physical health, higher income, and greater relationship satisfaction.

Another positive impact of dementia patients listening to music is a reduction in specific medications. One study done by the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that personalized music and memory therapy can improve symptoms of dementia and reduce the use of antipsychotic and anti-anxiety medication in people with the disease.

No matter where you came from or how much music has affected your life, the bottom line is music has had an impact on you and your loved ones. Music has the ability to transform you back in time or bring back a memory from ages ago. Music can change the way a patient with dementia lives and interacts with their loves ones in a positive way.