Everyone has at least one song that they can name off the top of their head that really encapsulated their youth and when you listen to that song in your adulthood, it really has a magical ability to transport you in that moment. This magical ability music that provides works hand in hand with our brain. This has been a hot topic for the Alzheimer’s community and due to viral YouTube videos, the general public. Music has the ability to help some of the elderly recapture these memories, if only for a while.
The elderly population is the most common group that music therapists work with. It’s estimated that 65% of music therapists in Canada work with the cognitively impaired elderly.
How music benefits the elderly:
Mood Control and Stress Management - Research has proven that people who have difficulty resting, or who react with anger or frustration may be calmed with appropriate music, specifically music from their youth. Music they’re familiar with can stimulate positive interactions as music requires little to no mental processing. Introducing new music may not have the same effect as it does require some work to process new music.
Music’s Memory Connection – In our 20’s and 30’s, we hold a special connection to certain songs that transport us to different times in our lives. For those living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, it’s similar. People who had difficulty speaking or recalling memories are shown in some videos sparking awake, talking about which era their music is from and who they were with and what they were doing.
Managing Routine - Some nursing homes and facilities may find music a good way to distract people into completing hobbies that would typically frustrate them. Those who typically have a hard time completing their exercise routine or dinner routine can find it more enjoyable when their favourite songs are playing.
Evoking Responses - In later stages of dementia, music can be used as a way to evoke a response. People may enjoy listening to familiar music and may even be seen visibly relaxing and mouthing along the words to the song.
Music benefits more than just those with dementia. Put on your favourite music today and consider the enjoyment you receive now as well as the benefits you may reap throughout your lifetime.