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Music and Memory: How Music Therapy Benefits Seniors with Dementia

a senior man listens to music on headphones

Music has a way of reaching deep into our hearts and minds. It can bring back past emotions or change our mood. Music and memory have also been well-studied. Music therapy may help support brain health too.

The qualities of music make it a valuable tool for those with dementia. From music programs to familiar songs, music has powerful effects for seniors living with a memory disorder. As a result, music has become a daily part of many memory care facilities.

Using music for memory disorders

Memory care providers use music to set the tone for a resident’s day. Fast or upbeat music gets residents moving. Slower music offers a calming effect. A favorite song often helps redirect their focus.

Those with dementia may have trouble with short-term memory. But they can remember songs or music from decades ago. Because of this, music from when they were younger is often a good choice. Overall, music therapy is most effective when tailored to each senior. Providers should get to know about their past. This will guide the types of music that may work best.

6 benefits of music and memory care

Many studies show that music and memory are linked. Specifically, a study in those with Alzheimer’s disease reported positive changes in the brain when exposed to music. Here are six ways music supports your loved one’s well-being.

  • Reduce stress or depression

Anxiety and agitation are common in those with dementia. Music provides a tool to soothe tough emotions. A happy or familiar song offers comfort and helps seniors relax. In the end, this reduces stress and boosts mood.

  • Support physical health
    While some songs encourage quiet and calm, others support movement. Memory care facilities may use music to get seniors up and going. From rhythmic movements to dancing, it’s a fun way to include a little extra physical activity in the day.
  • Bring back memories

Seniors may associate a song with a specific memory. So music can help them reconnect with their past. The Alzheimer’s Association says providers should talk to seniors about the happy times in their life and music. Even more, if a song brings up a bad memory, it’s best to avoid it.

  • Provide interaction without words

Seniors with memory disorders may have a hard time with words. This is especially true for those in the later stages of the disease. Music offers a tool to express emotions—even when words aren’t there. A study in Gerontologist says music allows seniors with late-stage dementia to still interact with those around them.

  • Support healthy sleep

A study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing showed many benefits of music when it comes to senior sleep. Its calming effects and support for well-being often result in better sleep. Seniors may fall asleep faster. They also reported feeling more rested in the morning.

  • Keep seniors involved

Finally, music keeps seniors engaged. Various types of music may be used as a signal for each event during the day. This helps make staying on a routine easier. If seniors have issues with focus or staying awake, it may keep them more alert too.

Music and memory at Walnut Place

Because music offers so many benefits for seniors, we use music in several ways at Walnut Place. But music is only one of the ways we care for your loved one. Our special programs get to know your loved one’s unique needs so they can thrive. Contact us today to find out how we can support your loved one through memory care in North Dallas.