As Alzheimer’s progresses, it may become difficult for seniors to enjoy their former interests and hobbies. However, playing music your loved one enjoyed while growing up could spark fond memories. Here are five reasons music is beneficial for seniors with Alzheimer’s.
1. Stimulates Emotions
Scientists have several theories why seniors with Alzheimer’s respond positively to music. According to one of the most common theories, they react to the emotional content of music. When they hear the upbeat rhythm of a pop song or the sad sound of a ballad, seniors are able to experience these emotions. Sometimes, listening to a song can trigger a memory with similar emotional content. Emotions allow seniors with Alzheimer’s to momentarily connect with their past, which can bring them and their loved ones peace of mind.
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2. Enhances Procedural Memory
Alzheimer’s doesn’t affect all memory systems equally. It has the biggest impact on episodic memory, which helps people retain memories of specific events. However, Alzheimer’s barely impacts procedural memory, which controls repetitive activities and motor skills like riding a bike and walking. Procedural memory allows these skills to be performed with minimal conscious thought. The ability to understand music also falls into this category. Because music engages implicit memory, seniors with Alzheimer’s often have an undiminished enjoyment of music.
3. Impacts Brain Chemistry
Scientists have studied the impact of music on the brain, and they’ve discovered music stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers. When people listen to music, it has a neurochemical effect on the brain, which can lower stress, boost mood, and induce sleep. To fully benefit from the therapeutic qualities of music, select songs tailored to your loved one’s needs. If your loved one is feeling depressed, an upbeat pop song may raise his or her spirits. If he or she is feeling anxious, a calming instrumental piece may be soothing.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Dayton, Ohio, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.
4. Provides Bonding Opportunities
It can be challenging to bond with a senior with Alzheimer’s. Your loved one may have a difficult time following conversations, and he or she may not recognize friends and family members. However, music can overcome these difficulties, giving you the opportunity to connect emotionally with your loved one. While listening to a favorite song from the past may be enough to bridge the emotional gap, singing together may be even more effective..
5. Boosts Brain Power and Motor Skills
Music has a palliative effect on seniors with Alzheimer’s, and it can also enhance cognitive function. For seniors in the early stages of the disease, music therapy can be used as a sort of mnemonic device, where tasks and skills are associated with specific musical cues. This association allows seniors to remember how to perform certain tasks. In the later stages of Alzheimer’s, music can boost motor skills and minimize anxiety, depression, and negative feelings.
If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Dayton seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that promotes cognitive health and delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. To learn about our premier senior care plans, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at (937) 353-1412.