For most of us, music is a big part of our lives. Music uplifts our spirits, makes us want to dance, and sing along. Music is a significant part of living in assisted living or memory care. Residents are regularly entertained by visiting musicians and many activities are tied to music.
However, the real “magic” of music is the unique and individual responses each person experiences while listening to their personal favorites. The right music can speak to us like nothing else. Music triggers emotions and memories. Time and time again, people with neurological impairment, who listened to music frequently, were able to physically move better and recall more information. And, for some people, listening and playing music helped regain a measure of speech. Now, that’s “magic”.
For people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, listening to music is a powerful antidote. Music can help a depressed mood or circumvent challenging behaviors. When a person is listening to music, their rhythmic responses are tied to the motor center of the brain. This requires little or no cognitive or mental processing. Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias who listen to music are repeatedly able to respond to the music (as experts in senior living, Caring Places Management, has developed their own music program; CPM Music Project. The program collects music specific to each residents’ preferences, passions, and lifestyle.)
Music and rhythm are a cross cultural language which we can all understand and appreciate. The opportunity to see and experience the POWER of music for people who are living their personal journey with dementia is truly an amazing and a humbling experience.