Research has shown that, even in late stages of dementia, the person can continue to respond to music, even when they are unresponsive to most other stimuli.
Does your loved one have difficulties with their memory or are there concerns around their behaviour or mood?
Are they at times disorientated or confused?
Are you concerned they may have Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia?
If you answered 'Yes' to any of these questions, then Music Therapy can help.
A formal diagnosis can only be obtained from a Geriatrician but Music Therapy can help to address some of the underlying difficulties and provide strategies, regardless of whether the diagnosis has been made.
People affected by dementia can experience sudden and unexpected mood changes, often triggered by the environment, noise, or any combination of causes. Yet, inside is a person who is perhaps struggling to be heard, listened to, or even trying to explain what they feel is going on inside their head.
Many of these symptoms can be exacerbated when the person moves into a nursing home. Music Therapy can help to provide a sense of familiarity, predictability and security and can help to reduce behaviours that challenge. Skills practiced and developed in Music Therapy help to provide a positive outlet for emotional stability in the face of confusion, promoting an enhanced quality of the person’s life.
Music has the capacity to overcome physical and cognitive limitations and encourage engagement and interaction, offering a new form of communication to those who, either gradually or suddenly, are overcome by an unwelcome and disruptive inner turmoil.
Music activates the logical and creative areas of the brain, providing people with dementia with opportunities for cognitive and memory stimulation, emotional expression, movement and speech.
Music Therapy is proven to be effective even for people who have not responded or are resistant to other treatment approaches. Music calms and sooths the mind and enhances cognitive processes. In the case of aphasia, singing can be a welcome release from the helplessness of communicating caused by difficulties with language.
Overall, Music Therapy can help a person with dementia to maintain or improve their physical, mental, cognitive and psychological functions.
Music Therapy is proven to:
• Reduce agitation and promote positive changes in mood and emotional states
• Stimulate the mind through reminiscence and creative self-expression, which helps to improve quality of life
• Increase awareness of self and the environment
• Help with reality orientation (time, place, person recognition)
• Aid attention and memory recall through singing familiar songs
• Promote relaxation and stress management
• Enhance social interaction and provide a sense of belonging
• Provide an additional means of communication when the ability to talk and understand language has gone
• Provide the client with a sense of control through the opportunity to engage in choice making
• Provide sensory stimulation to encourage a response
• Increase motivation and engagement during physical exercises.
Musical awareness is preserved when other cognitive functions fail
Our therapists are well practiced in working within elder and dementia care, both in an individual and a group setting. Music can have both a calming and a stimulating effect and can often reduce the need for increased medications.
Sessions are very flexible and guided by the needs of our clients. They can be delivered with or without instruments, with accompaniment (either live or pre-recorded) or acappella. Sessions or groups can include other participants (staff, relatives, children) and structured activities or normal daily routines.
When working with groups, we are careful to place the client in an environment that suits their personality and mental state. Some settle better in an open group, where they are free to come and go as they wish; others need to be placed in a closed group where the make-up of the group is carefully composed to avoid placing additional conflict or unease on the client.
A time for support
How can Music Therapy help?
Despite of confusion, disorientation, deterioration of speech and memory loss, people with dementia often continue to sing their favourite songs and dance to past tunes, when given the opportunity