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A Musical Approach to Treating Dementia - DementiaGuide.com
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The Healing Powers of Music and Treating Dementia - DementiaGuide.com

Posted on January 7, 2009 by DementiaGuide

A Musical Approach to Treating Dementia

How music may help to slow the effects of dementia.

Dementia often robs family and friendsof quality time together. Research shows that music, both playing and listening to it, might be an alternative way to reclaim time with someone who has dementia.

Music therapy can provide a way for caregivers to interact with persons with dementia while increasing satisfaction by providing opportunities for the sharing of memories associated with certain songs.

One of the biggest challenges in dealing with dementia is that there's a breakdown in the relationship as the person begins to lose their ability to communicate and interact with others. A new type of therapy involves having a music therapist go into the home and show the caregiver how they can use music as a way of creating meaningful experiences with the person they are caring for. This includes using music like old songs and dancing to facilitate conversation, as a way of interacting together.

People with dementia have difficulty with short term memory and often lose the ability to communicate verbally. However, research shows that they really respond to music because it taps into automatic memory. When they listen to a piece of music that they have used in their past, it can stimulate the recall of those memories, which then helps them to talk about those memories which then helps with interaction.

As a person with dementia begins to slide deeper into more advanced stages of dementia, caregivers lose more and more of their connection with them. But the last thing that goes - the last bit of memory that remains - is the ability to remember music.

Studies show the use of music may change the way the human brain is wired. Furthermore, playing a musical instrument could have an even stronger impact as learning a skill, like playing the violin, physically changes the brain and improves cognitive and perceptive skills and may even stave off dementia.

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