773 E. Haverford Road • Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

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Music Therapy for Alzheimer’s: Helping Loved Ones Reconnect through the Sounds of Their Life

We’ve all experienced the powerful influence of music in our lives. After a long and stressful day at work, it can be calming and relaxing. When we are tired and lethargic, it can provide a “pick me up” that provides an energy boost. Music can inspire us to new heights, bring tears to our eyes and trigger a wide range of human emotions. It appears that music can also help soothe the savage beast of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

There’s Magic in the Music

Sherri Snelling, a nationally recognized expert on family caregivers as well as CEO and Founder of the Caregiving Club, says “Although music has been with us since the dawn of time, in the last few decades studies have found that music as a therapeutic tool can increase cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients, help premature infants gain weight, and manage anxiety and depression for psychiatric patients. When it comes to Alzheimer’s patients, studies have shown that music reduces agitation and improves behavioral issues such as violent outbursts.”

How Music Therapy Helps Your Loved One

Crystal Yost, Program Director of Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, says, “Specialists in neurological research and therapeutic programming for memory loss tell us that music therapy can have an uplifting effect on the mood and overall well-being of our loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. Music improves their quality of life by providing a means of self-expression and social interaction that reconnects them with the outside world – even when they can no longer communicate verbally. Music therapy is just one of the many beneficial interactive programs we provide to our residents, which also include art therapy, reminiscence therapy and pet visitation.”

Music Therapy for Your Loved One at Home

Experts agree that it is best to choose music that reminds your loved one of their younger days and the happy times in their life. The Alzheimer’s Association offers several suggestions for providing music therapy for your loved one at home.

  • Choose Music from Happy Times – Identify music that’s familiar and enjoyable to your loved one. If possible, let them choose the music.
  • Set the Appropriate Mood – Use music to create the mood you want. For example, a tranquil piece of music can help create a calm environment, while a faster paced song from your loved one’s youth can boost their spirit and evoke happy memories.
  • Encourage Socialization – Singing along and movements such as clapping and dancing can add to the enjoyment. You can join in the fun, too.
  • Limit Interruptions – Choose a source of music that isn't interrupted by commercials since they can cause confusion. Try an internet radio like Pandora or use an iPod or CD player.
  • Avoid Over Stimulation – Eliminate competing noises by shutting windows and doors and by turning off the TV. Make sure the volume of the music is not too loud.

Music is Beneficial for Family Caregivers, too

Music therapy is not just for your loved one. It has also been shown to be an effective source of stress reduction for overburdened caregivers who are at risk of burnout, depression and serious illness. According to The Mayo Clinic, music benefits caregivers by reducing anxiety, lightening the mood and providing a way to connect with loved ones who have Alzheimer's disease — especially those who have difficulty communicating. Listening to music has been associated with boosting levels of melatonin in the brain that can improve mood, reduce depression and improve sleep – issues with which caregivers commonly struggle.

Adds Ms. Snelling, “As a caregiver, music is your therapy as well. Whether it is creating your own playlist to lift your mood when you have a “down day” or just taking pleasure in watching your loved one become engaged, music can make your heart soar.”

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Our brand-new Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr community provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comforts of home. Our community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family,” Again

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If, and when, the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again. For more information, please call Sharon at (484) 380-5400, or contact us online.

Disclaimer: This information should not be construed as Impressions at Bryn Mawr Terrace or Main Line Senior Care Alliance offering legal advice. For legal advice, please consult your attorney.