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Music and Memory Care: How Music Is Reshaping Alzheimer's Care

Memories have a huge impact on humans. As it happens, many critical memory-making moments in life are accompanied by music: early worship services, learning games and songs in school, high school dances, weddings, etc. Music plays a pivotal role in many emotional, formative moments in life.

When people begin to lose memories due to dementia or Alzheimer's disease, it can rob them of essential elements of who they are, leaving them confused and hopeless. While memories, once gone are gone forever, recent studies suggest that music can be instrumental in calming agitation and other negative behavioral symptoms associated with dementia and Alzheimer's.

Not Just Any Music Will Do

Music is powerful for evoking emotion, for better or worse. Every person going through memory care has different tastes and different needs when it comes to crafting the perfect music memory playlist.

A recent article for the Alzheimer's Association suggests that music therapists are akin to "music detectives." They spend a fair amount of time interviewing individuals and people who care for them to create the perfect playlist that is attuned to their memories, preferences, and backgrounds. The goal is to choose one that will evoke positive, happy moods. Even if the specifics of the memories are gone (such as names, dates, people, and places), the feelings associated with those memories remain.

However, there is some evidence that music can, at least temporarily, cause forgotten neurons to fire again, allowing memory care patients who are ordinarily withdrawn and unable to socialize to come to life and have conversations about the distant past. Perhaps the greatest gift it provides family and friends is the ability to connect in the present through threads from the past.

Benefits of Music Therapy for Memory Care

With the widespread availability of music online, music therapy is an inexpensive option to use in the battle for the minds and, in many cases, hearts of Alzheimer's and dementia patients. This ability to bring back moments of clarity and joy for such a low cost and without the risk of potentially dangerous side effects is music to the ears of families desperate to reconnect with their loved ones.

The science of memory and Alzheimer's care is constantly evolving with new discoveries all the time. Very few offer the ease of use and the widespread availability that music therapy represents. For some families, music therapy for memory care provides them with the most precious of gifts just to see joy and the smallest spark of recognition in the faces of their loved ones.

For more information on memory care, contact services such as Wellspring Meadows Assisted Living.