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Music Therapy as Treatment for Dementia

Ensuring that your loved one continues to engage in meaningful activities is an important aspect of their psychosocial wellbeing as they age in place. Staying active and engaged helps a person remain involved in their life and community. However, for caregivers who are providing senior companionship to loved ones with advancing dementia, providing purposeful activity can be a challenge. 

Dementia affects the brain, causing pronounced memory loss over time. A loved one with dementia may not be able to engage in traditional activities given the nature of the disease. Fortunately, music therapy can provide a great alternative to activities your loved one is no longer capable of.

What is Music Therapy?

Dementia prevents the mind from making new connections and slowly begins eroding existing connections. However, studies have shown that memories based on heightened emotions are stronger and more resistant to dementia's effects. 

This is the underlying principle behind music therapy. Even in late-stage dementia, music has a way of reaching through the symptoms and evoking positive memories. The technique is simple; any home caregiver can do it. Load a device such as an iPhone or tablet with your loved one's favorite songs, then turn on the device and watch joy light up their face. 

What are the Benefits of Using Music in Dementia Care?

Music is a part of our lives that we often take for granted. It surrounds us every day, and yet it can have a profound effect on a person with dementia. 

Music Reactivates Old Memories Through Emotion

Emotional memory is like muscle memory. It doesn't just rely on neurons and synapses to work, rather emotional memories are much more deeply encoded in our human experience. Memories tied to a strong emotion can be reactivated through music. Sound is highly effective in helping to form emotional memories and is equally good at reactivating them despite damaged neural pathways. 

Music Engages Your Loved One in Something Purposeful

When people prescribe a program of purposeful activity to combat dementia symptoms, many think that "purposeful" means a task with goals. In reality, purposeful means that the activity is innately linked to the individual, their tastes, and their habits. Music underscores every aspect of our lives. By providing music to a loved one, home caregivers can engage them in an activity that has deeper meaning and purpose to that individual. 

Music Combats Depressive Symptoms

Hearing your favorite song has more than just an emotional effect. It has physical effects as well. Hearing a beloved piece of music causes the pituitary gland to release dopamine, the natural hormone that increases feelings of happiness, contentment, and self-worth. Home caregivers can provide an instant pick-me-up for their loved ones with music. 

Making Beautiful Music Together

Music therapy is just one of many ways to bring joy to your loved one's life, even if they are suffering from dementia. Senior Helpers of the Salem, Oregon area is proud to offer home caregivers help with their loved one through our Senior Gems dementia care program. To learn more about the multitude of ways we can care for your loved one and their disease process, please contact Senior Helpers of Oregon today.