5 Tips for Renewing Life for Your Loved One with Dementia Through Music

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Sep 05, 2019

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Musictaps deep memories notlost to dementia and can bring those suffering from dementia back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize and stay present. Most people suffering from Dementia have short term memory loss, so tapping into their long-term memories can
have an amazing impact on mood. Since music is linked to emotion, our brains connect music with long term memory.
Music has the power to transport us back to another part of our story, to connect us, to make us feel seen and understood. One does not have to be especially musical to respond to music, to recognize music, or to react to music emotionally, shares the late neuroscience legend Dr. Oliver Sacks. Virtually everyone does, and they will continue to do so with dementia. Music opens the door to engagement. What is happening that elicits this universal and emotional response to music? As neuroimaging continues to improve, in addition to researchon living with dementia, a picture of what is happening is beginning to emerge. What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head, explains Petr Janata of UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain. This phenomenon lasts through the journey of dementia. The part of the brain activated by music is the medial prefrontal cortex, which is often one of the last parts of the brain to be changed by dementia. Janata has seen music open new pathways to memories thought lost. The parts of the brain which respond to music are very close to the parts of the brain concerned with memory, emotion, and mood. So familiar songs will bring back memories.
The best music for your loved one living with dementia is the music that helps you connect with them. Here are some tips for beginning the search for music that connects to the heart of any person.

Ask What are some of your favorite songs? or What song would you love to hear right now? Thanks to music streaming, most songs are readily available.
Create playlists for different moods or life stages. Music can calm, energize, help us grieve, and more. Be mindful about what music you play and when.
If verbal communication is limited, use trial and error. When a song clicks with the individual, add it to the playlist.
A good place to start is with songs from when the person was between 18 25 years old. Depending on what years were most transformative for them, move forward and backward within the time frame or decade youre exploring.
Find songs in your loved ones native language and recordings by the original artist. Try finding live recordings of a concert you know they went to and was important to them.

Anecdotally, the positive effects of music are endless. Stories of improved mood, reduced anxiety, subsequent medication reduction and deep connections abound. Formal research is now starting to catch up. The takeaway? Music is amazingly powerful but only with human connection and a nurturing supportive environment.'

Editors Note: This article was submitted by Home Care Assistance Collin County.

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