How Music Therapy Can Help Dementia

March is national Music Therapy Month!
Music can not only improve your mood, but can also have therapeutic effects with treating Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, even in later stages of illness. Music therapy can benefit all sorts of people – across all age brackets and cognitive abilities. It has been used to treat dementia, Parkinson’s, brain injury, pain, psychiatric illnesses such as depression, and other conditions.

Music works by stimulating a person’s brain through engagement, both through listening or creating music. People are typically able to participate and benefit from musical therapy sessions, in part because enjoying music, recognizing rhythm and melodies can be achieved by many cognitive capability levels.
Some researchers believe that those who are treated with music can avoid higher doses of medication for their illnesses, depending on the condition.

How Can it Help Treat Dementia?

Music Therapy can help dementia in a number of ways, including the following:

– Increase interaction with others: Those suffering from declining cognition may feel increasingly isolated, and their ability to communicate may deteriorate. Music can offer a way of expression outside of verbal communication. Singing songs can help stimulate and create a dialogue structure for individuals who may not be able to converse readily. Making music can allow those with dementia to interact with others, and facilitate feelings of togetherness and common purpose.

– Decrease Aggression: Some research has shown that soothing music can help patients with dementia overcome aggression and agitation, increasing their quality of life significantly.

– Stimulate the Memory: Familiar songs can also help stimulate memories and provide a sense of nostalgia for the client. People don’t always realize how impactful a familiar tune can be on their well-being. The connection between music and an event can be so strong that hearing the tune again years and years after the event will still trigger a memory of it.

Music therapy sessions will differ depending on what the needs of the person are. Clients of music therapy may need a variety of different type of supports, including physical, emotional, spiritual or psychological. A music therapist will assess the individual and create a clinical plan for treatment and goals. Such goals of sessions may include shifting moods, managing stress, and facilitating cognitive function.

How to Get in Touch with a Music Therapist

You can find an accredited music therapist though Music Therapists of BC.