While modern medicine is the keystone of treating seniors living with dementia and Alzheimer's, some professional health care providers may find that there are more creative forms of therapy that could help patients with these conditions. Recently, a number of communities specializing in senior care have been using music as an essential component of their dementia and Alzheimer's treatment plans. By looking at the benefits of this growing trend, you may find the pros so persuading that you opt to incorporate music therapy into your own patient care practices.
In general, music is believed to have the potential to improve the day-to-day functions of senior citizens. Many people maintain that playing music in some capacity can promote memory recall, reduce stress, encourage engagement and increase individuals' ability to focus. However, this is just the beginning when it comes to the benefits that this artistic therapy has to offer, and people can experience some perks simply through listening.
According to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, the positive effects of integrating music into therapy programs for patients with dementia - no matter the stage - are innumerable. The source reported that exposure to music will help individuals manage their emotions, leaving them with a sense of calmness and a quieted mind.
Music promotes agitation management
As cognitive decline progresses, it can be more and more difficult for seniors to control their emotions, and agitation tends to take over. This is especially the case for those who have lost their ability to communicate effectively, including nonverbal patients. Without the possibility of voicing their thoughts or feelings to others, these individuals can understandably become overcome with frustration.
On top of this, for patients with Alzheimer's, the brain struggles to process outside stimuli at the same rate as it previously had. For this reason, nearly everything in seniors' surroundings can overwhelm them, increasing irritability. Music therapy can be used to quell agitation and make negative emotions subside. If patients listen to so-called "sedative music," which is slow and soft with little to no percussion, any anxiety that they are feeling can slowly dissipate. Additionally, by helping people with dementia participate in making music, you may be able to redirect their focus so that they are no longer aware of any agitation they may be feeling. Have these seniors concentrate on singing, moving to a rhythm or using instruments to follow along with a beat. Doing so will be a distraction and will prevent them from growing frustrated.
Playing music can improve engagement
If you don't have any instruments on hand, then you should simply plug in your mp3 players and let the therapy begin. Medscape News reported that a program called "Music and Memory"has been embraced by a number of senior communities where some residents have Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. By allowing patients to select their own songs to play and letting those individuals listen, care providers hope to boost recall and foster patients' abilities to connect with the environment.
Alan D. Aviles, president and CEO of New York Health and Hospital Corporation, explained to Medscape Medical News that, "'Music and Memory' is an example of how a brilliant, simple idea can have such a profound, positive impact on the lives of our elders and their families."
Seniors who have participated in the program's therapy sessions have been able to respond to questions after listening to their music of choice. In some instances, patients have started singing portions of the songs they select. Such breakthroughs with people normally in catatonic states shows promise that, through music, patients can still come through and connect with the world.
Dan Cohen, former social worker and creator of this program, told the source that "this is not a cure, but we are increasing patients' level of engagement."