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Musical Medicine

MUSIC THERAPY’S EFFECT ON ALZHEIMER’S

Music is an emotional tie that binds our lives together. It creates nostalgia that washes over us at a moment’s notice when that song comes on the radio—taking you back to a place and time in your life that conjures happy memories with people you love. 

For those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s no different. Music has an emotional memory retained late into the disease, and for residents at The Lantern Memory Care communities and Alzheimer’s Centers of Excellence, music therapy is one of the many components of Morning Pointe’s patented Meaningful Day™. A personalized and purposeful memory care program that cognitively soothes and stimulates the brain. For many, the effects of music therapy have shown improvements in short-term memory, communication, and even physical effects like range of motion and mobility. 

“Music is really important for people living with brain disease,” says Beth Janney, RN, corporate director of memory care at Morning Pointe Senior Living. “One of the things that is retained with brain disease is rhythm and rote memory. So, when a music therapist engages a person with dementia through making music together, we see a decrease in anxiety, sundowning, and agitation. Even some residents who can’t remember a family member’s name will be able to recall lyrics to songs. Music is a wonderful tool we have to connect with our residents and provide them joy.” 

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s 

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life 
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems 
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks 
  • Increasingly relying on memory aids (notes) and family members for things 
  • Making financial mistakes 

As the Disease Progresses 

  • Withdrawal from work and social activities 
  • Confusion with time and place 
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relations. May not be able to judge distance well or identify colors or contrast. This can cause issues with driving. 
  • Aren’t as familiar with where they are going anymore. 
  • Problems following or joining a conversation. May repeat themselves or stop in the middle of a conversation and not understand how to continue. 
  • Changes in mood and personality. They may be suspicious, confused, depressed or fearful and anxious. They may be easily upset when out of their comfort zone. 

These signs could mean that it’s time to start looking for specialized care. 

Bigger Issues and Safety Concerns 

  • Decreased or poor judgment 
  • Poor hygiene 
  • Hair is not washed. 
  • Wearing the same clothes day after day 
  • Spoiled food in the fridge 
  • Medications are haphazardly hidden throughout the house. 
  • They often misplace items and lose their ability to retrace their steps. 

You should be alert for bigger safety issues like leaving the stove on. 

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