Music and emotion have a strong link; music awakens a passion. In fact, rational human beings respond to music right from a tender age, even before they learn how to use words. This music-emotion relationship continues into our later stages of life. Music can activate one’s unconscious emotions, leading to a better feeling. It is this feeling which informs caregivers to apply music therapy to dementia patients.
Music and Dementia
Music can penetrate various parts of the brain better than language; hence, it is a great tool used by therapists to engage or communicate with dementia patients. It doesn’t matter if the patient no longer speaks; most dementia patients respond positively to music therapy. When a dementia patient listens to a soothing music piece, their emotional reactions get inspired, leading to a better feeling.
Benefits of Music Therapy to Dementia Patients
- Music helps to change the patient’s mood. For example, if the patient is resisting your help, you can play their favourite music to lessen their distress.
- Music therapy decreases social isolation by helping the patient to connect and interact with other people.
- Playing an interesting music piece may trigger the patient to move or dance, which is a way of exercising. Dancing improves blood circulation, which in turn boosts memory.
Tips for Using Music Therapy
Play the music which the patient likes. Not sure about what they want? You could check their tape or record collection for clues. Try to find out what the most popular songs and musicians in the patient’s youth were and see if they will like them.
Keep an eye on the patient’s reaction. If you realise that they are uncomfortable with the choice of music, change it or stop it for a while before you can try something new, possibly at some other time. If the patient likes the music, you can use the opportunity to engage with him or her. Are they dancing or tapping their fingers? You can join them and do it too.
Watch out for any signs of boredom. The human mind gets bored listening to one thing over and over, no matter how good it is. So, you will want to change the music to break this boredom, as it may trigger adverse reactions.