The Benefits of Music for Seniors with Dementia

The Benefits of Music for Seniors with Dementia

From a young age, humans innately respond to music. In fact, science tells us that even the cries of newborn babies include some elements common in music.

So it’s no surprise that music has so many benefits for seniors with dementia. Indeed, the power of music can help make life more rich and meaningful for seniors. If you’re looking for dementia care in Massachusetts, consider a community that incorporates music. At The Overlook, we’re believers in the power of music to help make life more rich and meaningful for seniors. Here are some of the results we see every day.

Communicating Through Sound

Music therapy can help people of all ages, but medical experts say it’s especially beneficial for seniors with dementia, who may no longer be able to communicate in other ways. As dementia steals the ability to express basic needs, sufferers can begin feeling isolated. Singing as part of therapy can promote communication through its structure and stimulation.

Music therapy encourages communication between dementia patients and therapists as they work one-on-one, and it also can spur communication among patients in group settings, experts note. As music triggers memories, it can help seniors with dementia communicate by reminding them of their past identity the music accompanied.

Increasing Emotional Functioning

In working with dementia patients, music therapists use musical expression to evoke feelings, sensations and memories. Music is closely related to unconscious emotions and inner feelings, which can still provide meaning to patients who may not remember more recent events.

Experiencing music can help provide a better quality of life for dementia patients, experts say. Music can even help reduce isolation in dementia patients as it improves overall physical and mental wellbeing. There are also several emotion-based benefits associated with music therapy:

  • Better memory recall capabilities.
  • A stronger sense of being in control of life.
  • Changes in emotional states and mood.
  • Management of pain and discomfort without drugs.
  • Stimulation of interest when other approaches don’t work.
  • Opportunities to engage socially with other people.

Music therapists use music to help seniors with dementia maintain — or even increase — their mental, social, physical and emotional functioning. As a result, quality of life also is maintained or improved.

A Basis for Physical Movement

Music also can play a role in helping seniors with dementia get more exercise, in some cases assisting in restoration of physical functioning that has been lost due to a lack of movement. It’s never too late to start exercising, medical experts say, even for individuals who have become physically frail. Music therapists select or create music that supports various types of exercise.

Selecting the Right Music

If you’re interested in choosing music for your senior loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association offers these tips:

  • Choose music that is familiar, or let the individual select.
  • Use music to create the desired mood, such as a tranquil piece for meal times.
  • Encourage movement such as clapping and dancing with the music.
  • Avoid competing noises by closing windows and turning off the TV.

We hope you consider incorporating music into dementia therapy for your loved one. For more information about memory care at The Overlook, please contact us today.