Music Makes Difference for Those with Dementia


One of my favorite YouTube videos is Alive Inside by Music & Memory. Each time I watch this video I’m amazed by the power of music, especially in those with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

In my work as a doctor helping older adults who have dementia, I’ve often found music is one of the best ways engage a person with dementia.

Alzheimer’s ravages the mind, but the part that allows you to respond to music remains relatively untouched. So, when people with Alzheimer’s hear music, they often start tapping their feet, moving their arms and generally becoming more animated.

The reverse is also true. Many times people with Alzheimer’s are or can become agitated easily; calming music can be used to comfort them.

These music memories are accessed in the deepest part of the brain, and in many cases are unaffected by dementia. Remote memories, those that are formed earlier in life, are mostly preserved.  For music, the strongest music memories are typically formed in the patient’s twenties, and often it is music from this age span that provides the most “music memories.”

When a certain song plays, people have memories tied to those songs. They may recall happy times, sadness or simply a certain time in life.

For more information, check out Music & Memory; it’s a terrific program. I’ve also made a video on the topic with more information.

Patricia Litvak_2014_SmPatricia Litvak, MD, an expert in medical issues facing aging adults, is a medical director at InnovAge

 

 

This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical needs.

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