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Music and Dementia: How Music Stimulates the Mind and Warms the Heart

Study after study has shown the positive effects of music on mental health and cognitive development, especially on individuals with dementia. Music can improve mood, provide inspiration, incite warm feelings, soothe, and delight people in all stages of dementia.

Music stimulates the formation of dopamine, which is a part of your brain’s pleasure-reward system. Musical memories are often preserved in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease because the areas of the brain that are linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by it. In fact, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease often retain their musical aptitude and appreciation even in the late stages of the disease.

For these reasons, music tends to reduce depression, anxiety, agitation, and stress, and songs from early childhood can elicit positive memories. Additionally, bonding with other people over music has its own therapeutic benefits, and singing along with songs exercises verbal and vocal skills. 

If you know that music tends to improve your loved ones’ outlook, it may be the ideal way to connect with them. As you create this supportive environment for them, keep a few things in mind.

● Choose songs you know will comfort them. In some cases, music can lead to negative emotions as a result of the words or the sounds.

● Consider singing with the music, and encourage the seniors to do the same. Even humming along with the song can be therapeutic.

● Try dancing with them. You’ll find that even in moderate to advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the seniors will truly enjoy the experience.

Because we thoroughly understand the benefits of music on individuals with dementia, we often use music to create a comfortable and therapeutic environment for all of the memory care residents of our Waltonwood senior living locations in Michigan, Virginia, and North Carolina. Our sensory rooms feature soothing visual and auditory elements, and we also provide opportunities for social interaction that involve dancing, listening to music, or learning to play musical instruments.

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