Music Therapy for Dementia Care

Listening to music is a passive activity that almost everyone enjoys. It is relaxing, decreases stress and simply puts people in a good mood. The use of music for individuals with dementia is therefore a beneficial activity that can also provide cognitive stimulation as well as opportunities for social interaction and reminiscence. The positive effects of music therapy are beginning to become acknowledged by those who work with individuals with dementia. Nursing homes and senior living facilities are finding ways to incorporate music into the everyday lives of their patients. Even companies that develop activity programs for dementia have found new, innovative ways to use music as an engaging activity. MindStart is one such company that was designed by an occupational therapist with the goal of improving the lives of patients with dementia. They provide interactive activities that also help caregivers and reduce stress. MindStart recently teamed with a music therapist who created a series of DVDs called Music Through Life which was created for older adults with memory loss.

The other reason music therapy is specifically beneficial for an individual with dementia is because the cognitive decline associated with the disease doesn’t affect the music and emotional memory centers of the brain until much later. Because these neuronal pathways are preserved, music is an activity that can allow individuals to connect with others about past memories or enjoy songs they have known since young adulthood. Many of those who suffer from some form of dementia lose their livelihood and verbal communication becomes very minimal. While it is not the case for everyone, music can have such a profound positive effect for patients with dementia. They often seem to come alive by engaging in conversations about the music, tapping their feet or even dancing. The best part about music therapy is that it is easy to use and is unlikely to produce negative results.