We all need to feel engaged and entertained to stay active both physically and mentally. Just because someone has Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia doesn’t mean that need disappears. People in nursing homes and other care organizations can find renewed meaning and connection in their lives through the gift of music.
Studies have shown that music may reduce agitation and improve behavioral issues that are common in the middle states of the disease. Even in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may be able to tap a beat or sing lyrics to a song from childhood. Music provides a way to connect, even after verbal communication has become difficult. Music decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. When you listen to music, your brain released dopamine. One smalls study found that just the anticipation of knowing the best part of a song is coming can get the dopamine flowing.
People come up with more creative solutions when they listen to happy, upbeat music than when they sit in silence. It may be because music improves the brain’s flexibility or because it relaxes you enough for the creative juices to flow. It is believed that personalized play lists tap deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring participants back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize, and stay present.
Studies also show that music helps them retrieve memories, communicate more effective, and remember who they are. Listening to music that brings joy causes blood vessels to expand, increasing blood flow and improving cardiovascular health. Adapted from Music and the Mind by Ava M Stinnett
Music and singing is an integral part of our activities at Primrose. When visiting your family you might also consider including singing or listening to music with your loved one.