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How Does Music Affect Seniors with Dementia?

We all can agree that music is good for the soul. But how good is it for those with dementia? As seniors face the challenges of memory loss and cognitive decline, music has proven to be a therapeutic tool that can evoke memories, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being. If you are a caregiver to a senior with dementia, here are some indisputable reasons why music should be part of their daily routine. 

The impact of music on memory

Dementia is a progressive condition that affects memory, cognition, and behavior. It can be isolating and frustrating for individuals as they struggle to maintain their sense of identity and connection with the world around them. However, music has a unique ability to reach beyond the barriers imposed by the disease, tapping into deep-rooted memories and emotions that may otherwise remain dormant.

Studies have shown that music has a direct impact on the brain, stimulating neural pathways associated with memory and emotion. Even when other cognitive functions may be impaired, the ability to respond to music often remains intact. Listening to familiar songs from their youth or engaging in musical activities can transport seniors with dementia to earlier times, and facilitate a sense of familiarity and belonging. For instance, if your loved one was a teen in the 50s or 60s, a little Jailhouse Rock or Good Vibrations may unlock some fond memories that may just have them tapping their feet!  

Music can keep negative dementia behaviors at bay

One of the key benefits of music therapy is its ability to regulate and improve mood. Seniors with dementia may experience anxiety, agitation, or depression, but music can help alleviate these symptoms. Calming melodies or songs with a positive association can reduce stress and promote relaxation. This is because the limbic system in the brain (which is responsible for controlling memories and processing emotions) ignites when we listen to music. Additionally, engaging in musical activities, such as a group sing-along or playing an instrument, can provide a sense of accomplishment, boost self-esteem and foster a more positive outlook for the rest of the day.

Senior socialization can be improved through music

If there’s anything we’ve learned in life, it’s this: The two things that almost always bring people together are food and music. Group music sessions create opportunities for seniors to connect with each other, fostering a sense of community and reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Singing together, sharing musical memories, or participating in drum circles can strengthen bonds and create a supportive environment where seniors with dementia feel understood and valued.

How Lester Senior Living Uses Music to Help Memory Care Residents in NJ

At Lester Senior Living, our professional memory care program in NJ incorporates music therapy as an essential component of care. We have trained professionals on site everyday who specialize in using music to address specific goals and needs of individuals with dementia. These caregivers work closely with memory care residents to create personalized playlists and arrange music memory games with the group that cater to their capabilities. We recognize how music can serve as a powerful cue, helping seniors remember routines or prompting them to engage in activities that they may otherwise struggle with. As we continue to explore the potential of music in dementia care, it is clear that it holds immense potential for transforming the lives of seniors and enriching their overall quality of life at Lester Senior Living. 

To learn more about our specialized memory care suite in Morris County NJ, please contact JCHC today and visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org