by: Rita Altman / Posted: 07/24/2013
Have you ever witnessed a person who can no longer speak in a full sentence, but still can sing an entire song? Or have you ever listened and watched as a person with advanced memory loss beautifully plays an entire piece on a piano? In my work in memory care, I have had the privilege of having these types of experiences on many occasions. Regardless of how often this occurs, each time it happens I am no less inspired or amazed. The following are some ways that music plays such an important role in memory care.
1. Music stimulates the mind.
Some of the best memory care approaches are designed to tap into the retained abilities of the person with memory loss, focusing on their remaining strengths rather than their losses.According to Concetta Tomaino, executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function and senior vice president for Music Therapy at CenterLight Health Systems, "We now know from clinical case studies that music can affect -- in very specific ways -- human neurological, psychological and physical functioning in areas such as learning, processing language, expressing emotion, memory and physiological and motor responses."
Current research, also explains that the brain processes music in multiple areas. Interestingly enough, those areas tend to be less damaged by Alzheimer's disease. A great way to put this concept into practice is to include music into your loved one's day to bring them moments of enjoyment, familiarity and well-being.
Music therapy and music-appreciation programs are becoming a regular activity in some memory care and senior living communities. In fact, some forms of music therapy are even covered by medical insurance. Music is a wonderful medium for reminiscing with those with memory loss. While they may not recall every detail from events in the past, certain songs and types of music can stimulate the brain to recall some of the emotions and memories of days past.
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