Can music help someone with Alzheimer’s disease?

Can music help someone with Alzheimer’s disease?

Summary: Musical memories are often preserved in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers say listening to music can have a positive effect on emotions and behavior in people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to wear out and die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect memory, thinking and social skills severely enough to interfere with daily function.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 5.8 million people in the US were living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2020. And this number is predicted to almost triple to 14 million people by 2060.

Memory loss is a key symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. An early sign of the disease is difficulty remembering recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, memory impairment persists and worsens, affecting the ability to function at work or at home.

However, musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease, as key areas of the brain associated with musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease. Research suggests that listening to or singing songs can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

Music can also benefit caregivers by reducing anxiety and agitation, improving mood, and providing a way to connect with loved ones who have Alzheimer’s—especially those who have difficulty communicating.

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This shows a brain in a globe and people walking on it
This shows the brain
However, musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease, as key areas of the brain associated with musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease. Image is in the public domain

If you want to use music to help a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, consider these tips:

  • Consider your loved one’s preferences. What kind of music is your loved one into? What music brings back memories of happy times in his or her life? Get family and friends involved by asking them to suggest songs or create playlists.
  • Set the mood. To soothe a loved one during a meal or morning hygiene routine, play music or sing a soothing song. When you want to lift a loved one’s mood, use more upbeat or faster-paced music.
  • Avoid overstimulation. When playing music, eliminate competing sounds. Turn off the TV. Shut the door. Adjust the volume based on your loved one’s hearing ability. Choose music that is not interrupted by commercials, which can cause confusion.
  • Encourage movement. Help your loved one clap or tap their feet to the beat. If possible, consider dancing with a loved one.
  • Sing along. Singing along to music with a loved one can lift your mood and improve your relationship. Some early studies also suggest that musical memory works differently from other types of memory, and singing can help stimulate unique memories.
  • Pay attention to your loved one’s reaction. If your loved one seems to enjoy certain songs, play them often. If your loved one reacts negatively to a certain song or type of music, choose something else.

About this music and news about Alzheimer’s research

Author: Laurel Kelly
Source: Mayo Clinic
Contact: Laurel Kelly – Mayo Clinic
picture: Image is in the public domain

#music #Alzheimers #disease

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