The Transformative Muse of Music Therapy


Much like a thread that holds together pieces of cloth, music plays a connective role throughout our lives including nursery rhymes sung as children, earworm TV and radio jingles and individual tunes that mark the milestone moments of our life. For many of us, recalling the music from our life’s soundtrack provides a trip down memory lane, but music can also create an incredible positive impact on those living with all stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Benefits of Music Therapy

If you’ve ever found yourself humming as you walked or whistling for the sheer joy of it, you understand the incredible and almost automatic uplifting effect that music can create. For those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, music has the ability to make an impact even when names and faces no longer remain familiar. Music can be used as a means to encourage a positive mood, distract and manage stress during times of change and create spontaneous interactions between a resident and caregiver. Simply turn on a song and you’ll see the effect music can have on us all. When the melody begins you’ll see fingers tapping on tabletops, heads nodding in time to the music and arms and legs swinging to the beat.

Beyond being enjoyable, music can be also used to stimulate residents who experience excessive sleepiness during meal time or bath time or who have mobility trouble when transitioning from one area to another. This sort of situation might call for a quick-tempo number with some bells, gongs, cymbals or drums. Conversely, the sedative music of lullabies and ballads can assist in calming residents who are experiencing distress or agitation. This is especially effective for those who experience elements of sundowning or who have trouble falling asleep.

When looking to explore the benefits of music therapy, start with the music your residents like most including tunes from their early adulthood such as Elvis and Johnny Cash, standard childhood lullabies, ballads and the sounds of nature. The impact of music and memory can be also seen first-hand through a heartwarming new documentary called Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory that explores the amazing connections created through music among individuals in various stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Watch the incredible transformation of Henry, a 10-year dementia patient, when he is given an IPod with a selection of his favorite music memories.

At SeniorCare Homes, Alzheimer’s and dementia residents living in our Memory Care Homes enjoy recreation through live music performances and sing-alongs as well as daily music programming from Pandora and XM satellite radio stations. Not only do we believe that music is an enjoyable part of the day for those living in the Memory Care Homes but it also has the additional benefit of engaging a part of the resident’s brain that updates memories and engages the brain for commands and predictions.

SeniorCare Homes in Overland Park and Leawood, Kansas, offer the most comfortable and stable assisted living environment to seniors with dementia, memory loss, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Phone (913) 236-0036 to learn more about neighborhood living for the memory impaired.