Just as a gentle lullaby can soothe a crying baby, other music has a positive impact on people suffering from dementia and other problems.
The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function states, “Music therapy can assist the awakening and healing of individuals with a wide range of neurological conditions, including strokes, trauma, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.”
The Institute recounts cases where non-responsive nursing home patients begin smiling and clapping to music that evokes memories and positive connections. Other patients with anxiety and depression grow less agitated, as the music transports them to a calmer place in their minds. Music soundtracks from classic movies and other upbeat tunes are popular choices.
According to Alzheimer.net, “Senior care homes report that residents are more engaged and much happier with the use of music therapy. They note that staff members are able to create more meaningful relationships with patients, spending less time with behavioral issues. Some residences are actually seeing a reduction in the need for psychotropic drugs, which carry with them a set of problems on their own.
“Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients can recall memories and emotions, and have enhanced mental performance after singing classic hits and show tunes from movies and musicals – a breakthrough in understanding how music affects these patients.”
Researchers cite the top reasons why music boosts brain activity: It evokes emotions that stimulate memories; musical aptitude and appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in dementia patients; singing is engaging; and music can shift mood, manage stress, and stimulate positive interactions.
“Music requires little to no mental processing, so singing music doesn’t require the cognitive function that is not present in most dementia patients,” explains the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.