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Have you ever heard a song and it takes you back to a time or memory in your life?  Music is very powerful in remembering moments in your life, which is why it is used with people who suffer from different forms of dementia and other diseases.  I often meet with families and staff at facilities to help them incorporate music as an activity for a person they care for.  

The music you choose needs to be music that they would have been familiar to the person earlier in their life.  Find out what music was popular when they were young; gather information about their younger days to know what their favorite song was and if they enjoyed certain types of music.  Learn these songs so that you can sing to them while doing an activity.  I tell our in home caregivers to learn these songs to help get through an activity with the patient.  Music can be a distraction from an otherwise difficult behavior but it also can get a body moving to a rhythm, making an activity such as showering or toileting or even just walking through the house a smoother process  

IPods can be very helpful if you aren’t comfortable actually singing to the person. You could either put headphones on the person or have music playing for them in the background.  You will be surprised that even a person who doesn’t communicate much anymore can still sing songs that were familiar years ago. You want to encourage the person to actually sing with the music.  This type of stimulation to the brain can help them do other motor activities that they are normally unable to do.  

Alzheimer’s researcher Linda Maguire says “musical aptitude and music appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in patients with Alzheimer’s.” Because these two abilities remain long after other abilities have passed, music is an excellent way to reach beyond the disease and reach the person.

Music has also proven to be very successful in Parkinson’s patients.  Music evokes rhythmic movements and helps boost mood, which is why this is believed to be so helpful with Parkinson’s.  If you can think about a time when the marching band was playing and how it made you just want to start marching along, you can understand why music may help a person’s body move in a way that normally does not.  

There is a video called “Alive Inside” that demonstrates the power of music with a dementia patient.  If you are wondering about music therapy, I recommend watching this video to see for yourself how powerful music can be.  

Western Illinois Home Health Care is a full service provider.  We specialize in dementia care and are trained to use techniques incorporating music into daily activities, while providing care to people in their homes.  If you or someone you know needs care, please call us at 1-800-228-5993.  

Amanda Powell, BSW is a Senior Care Manager for Western Illinois Home Health Care

December 2015

by Amanda Powell

Music is Good for Our Brain

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