The Benefits of Music for Dementia

Music is not only for fun and entertainment. It’s not just an art; it’s also food and medicine for the mind and body. It’s known to lift the spirits of those who are depressed and those who have lost hope. There are several benefits of music for dementia that we share in our blog.

Music soothes the soul, improves focus, reduces agitation, and boosts moods. Music also brings back meaningful memories, which is why it is good for people with dementia. There is a powerful connection between music and memory, even for dementia patients who cannot remember names and often find it challenging to follow conversations.

Behavioral disturbances like paranoia, psychosis, sleep disturbance, and aggression are also common among people with dementia. Medications and non-pharmacologic strategies are used for addressing these problems, but they are only partially effective. This is why music and other art-related therapies have become popular alternative strategies in the past years. Many of the care homes and residences in the country include music-related activities in their programs – specifically dancing, singing, and music listening.

Music therapy programs, which are more than just playing and listening to music, are also used for managing behavioral symptoms related to dementia. Time and again, research and studies have proven how music therapy can help increase serotonin and melatonin levels, which helps make patients calm and relaxed.

How Music Benefits Dementia Patients

If you are looking for dementia care tips, try using music as an alternative strategy. Music benefits dementia patients in more ways than you can imagine.

1. Music therapy helps reduce stress.

Unfamiliar places cause frustrations and worries in dementia patients. It’s even more difficult if they are surrounded by people they do not know, such as when they are in the doctor’s office or the therapy room. A sensory overload can be overwhelming and can cause stress.

Playing music before a stressful activity will help calm and relax the mind. Listening to music will divert the attention from all the stress, avoiding any agitation, confusion, and paranoia.

Listening to music can also comfort and soothe the soul, which can inspire lighthearted feelings.

Aside from going to the doctor’s office and therapy sessions, family outings or celebrations and traveling by car are also stressful situations that can trigger stressful reactions from people living with dementia.

2. Music helps connect people.

People who are living with dementia often find themselves alone, isolated. Sometimes, they feel like they’re in a completely different world. And this is not good because it can lead to depression and cause adverse effects on their health.

Music plays a vital role in bringing people together and building connections. For people living with dementia, music is a way of socializing. Listening to music that they know and listening to it with family, loved ones, and care partners will give them feelings of warmth and comfortable familiarity.

It’s essential to choose the right song or music. For example, music that reminds someone of heartbreak or a sad memory can result in a negative response like anger or agitation. Choose music that brings back happy memories, such as childhood songs, to stimulate positive emotions.

3. Music encourages communication.

Listening to music encourages dementia patients who have lost their speaking abilities to communicate. When their favorite song is played (or sung), they can sway to the rhythm of the music, clap their hands, or tap their feet. They may also dance when they feel like doing it.

4. Music can brighten any day.

Playing music or singing songs early in the morning will help dementia patients start their day with happy thoughts and smiles on their faces. It can also make morning activities like eating, personal hygiene, and dressing up more manageable and more fun to do.

5. Music stimulates the mind.

Playing music during therapy sessions helps stimulate the minds of people living with dementia. When they sing while exercising or during therapy, their minds are activated, their breathing improves, and they become more engaged in the activities.

6. Music helps bring back memories.

Dementia patients suffer from memory loss, so many of them have memory spans that last only for a few seconds. It is difficult to recall the past and add new memories. Music can greatly help in this area.

For example, a pianist with dementia will not recall his past performances or how many places he has traveled to for his concerts. But if you show him a piano or play music by Vivaldi or Beethoven, he might remember important memories. He may even start playing the piano!

7. Music can help break repetitive behavior.

Dementia patients often repeat their actions or activity over and over. If they asked you a question ten minutes ago, they’d ask you that question five minutes later – and again and again. Music diverts the mind and helps it focus on other thoughts (or things). It helps stop repetitive behavior.

8. Music creates a relaxing environment.

Playing music at night will help create a relaxing environment, which calms the mind of dementia patients. Soft, soothing melodies help them settle down and prepare for their bedtime routine. They can go to bed free from anger, confusion, or anxiety.

To ensure that music impacts dementia patients positively, you have to know what kind of music to play. You’ll have to consider the patients’ age and personal background. You also have to consider the entertainment factor and the effect a specific kind of music can have on people living with dementia.  

If you have any questions about the benefits of music for dementia, contact us today at Caregogi!

Author Bio

Melissa Andrews is the Content Marketing Strategist for Paradise Living Centers, an assisted living center for seniors with locations in Paradise Valley and Phoenix, Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and going on hiking trips with her siblings and cousins.