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King Farm Blog

IKF Blog
Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Positive Affect of Music and Memory

For those diagnosed or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, music can play a meaningful role. We know music’s power in relieving anxiety but research has also discovered that the areas in the brain that house our musical memories may remain relatively undamaged by the cognitive disease. Functioning differently than our other memories, we’ve also learned that certain activities, like singing, may actually help to stimulate them.

Music can spark feelings of happiness, sadness or thoughtfulness in everyone, while also helping to reduce depression and agitation. But it can help caregivers or visitors connect to their loved ones in ways that may have been lost. If conversations have become more difficult or are no longer possible, listening, playing or singing along to music can be one of the most beautiful ways to still communicate with your loved one.

If you’d like to incorporate music into your visits or as part of the daily routine of someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, here are a few suggestions from the Mayo Clinic to consider:

Choosing the music

When choosing the type of music to share, do this together if at all possible. Are they able to pick the songs they like the best or do you know if there was a special kind or style of music that your loved one enjoyed? You might also try music that represents memories from their childhood or other happy times in their life. Make sure to ask others for their ideas or recommendations.

Setting the mood

Music is powerful when it comes to influencing our moods. Certain types of music, like calming classical or piano, can help soothe us. More upbeat or faster music tends to make us feel happier and more upbeat as well. If you’re helping your loved one with a task that can be upsetting or if you want to encourage them to experience joy in the moment, consider setting the background with different musical choices.

Avoid confusion

When you’re playing music, even in the background, try to eliminate other noises and distractions, including the television or conversations that might also be happening in the same room. Several simultaneous audio stimulations can be agitating or frustrating. It’s also recommended to play music that doesn’t include commercials as this abrupt switch in flow can be confusing.

Encourage movement

Music also provides the perfect opportunity for physical activity. While listening to a faster beat, you can start just by clapping your hands or tapping your feet to the rhythm. Encourage your loved one to do the same by imitating you. If possible, take advantage of this time to share a moment dancing or simply moving along together to the beat.

Have a sing-along

The right music can provide a great opportunity for a sing-along with your loved one. A favorite tune can easily lift the mood or the spirit when singing along together. Even if you don’t have the accompanying music, try singing well known songs from childhood or another familiar era together. When conversations are difficult, communicating by way of music is a special way to connect.

Note their response

Whenever you play music, pay attention to how your loved one responds, including if they are enjoying spending time together, a particular song or style of music. If they seem to respond positively to a certain type of music over another, make a note and play that more often. If there is any negative reaction or it seems to cause agitation, eliminate that type of music or try again on another day.

Re-connecting to reality

One recent study on the impact of music worked with people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, helping them select songs that were familiar and meaningful. After creating playlists and showing them how to use the portable media player, they observed their responses when the headphones were put on and the music was played. Describing it as watching them come alive, the researchers said the scene was heartwarming. The music became somewhat of an anchor that seemed to bring them back into reality.

MRI scans were then conducted while the patients listened to segments of their own music, periods of silence and their own music played in reverse. The scans revealed that their personally meaningful music was definitely a route for communication. Although language and visual memories are typically damaged early in the progression of Alzheimer’s, the personalized music choices were found to activate the brain. Listening to music is not a cure, but the study suggested that it could help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life.

Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living

At Ingleside, our Well-Being Philosophy guides our Memory Care program. We honor our residents with a person-directed approach so that we connect with each of them individually. We understand the increasing benefits of music therapy and offer this to our residents along with art, movement, pet and recreational therapies. Working together, our goal is to help them engage in life and as much as possible, to thrive.

At Ingleside’s King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living, you’ll find an environment that encourages and supports everyone to feel empowered and to be an important member of the community.

Our Memory Care includes:

  • Intimate and secure residential neighborhood
  • Spacious residences filled with natural light
  • Enclosed terrace with raised gardens
  • Person-directed service plans
  • Individualized therapeutic programs
  • Intergenerational programming
  • Holistic fitness and well-being programs
  • All-day flexible dining, featuring chef inspired meals
  • Family support, education and engagement
  • Access to the Ingleside Center for Healthy Living that includes on-site physician offices
  • Access to our social day program therapeutically designed for those with cognitive impairment

Call (240) 455-4582 if you have any questions or visit our events page to sign up for an event.

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