Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

Music therapy for Dementia

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Music therapy has been proven to stimulate certain parts of the brain. Studies have shown that music therapy can be used to enhance the memory of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.

Music therapy has been proven as a great tool in the treatment of these conditions. Music therapy has been widely used to help dementia patients recover their memory or even relieve anxiety or agitation, among others. This article explains what is music therapy and how it can help dementia patients live better.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy does not simply mean playing tunes and singing along with patients. Music therapy is a psychological clinical intervention used to help people who are battling illnesses or disabilities. Music therapy focuses on supporting a person’s psychological, emotional, cognitive and communicative needs, among others.

Music therapy can be extremely beneficial for people suffering from conditions such as dementia or other conditions or illnesses which affect the cognitive function of the brain. Music therapy facilitates the emotional wellbeing and communication of patients.

Music therapy is an excellent tool, as it improves a person’s communication skills, it enhances their self-awareness as well as awareness of the ones around them and their environment. Music therapy also improves a person’s self-confidence, independence as well as their attention span, which is why it’s such a widely used tool in dementia care.

Music therapy is quite varied. It can be anything from engagement in live musical interaction and musical play between the participants and the therapist. The music can oftentimes be improvised and a wide variety of musical genres and instruments can be used.

Music therapy is used to enable people to efficiently communicate verbally. Music therapy is usually aimed at people who suffer from a disability, illness or injury. Music therapy can be used in helping an autistic person or someone suffering from dementia.

Can music help dementia patients?

Yes, music therapy can help dementia patients. Dementia is a condition which impacts the brain function of a person and has a direct impact on their memory. Music and memory are deeply linked.

Music brings up emotional memories from a person’s past which is why it’s an incredible tool in dementia care. Music therapy has many benefits for dementia patients. Music therapy can help reduce anxiety and depression, agitation or aggression. Music therapy in dementia helps to maintain a patient’s speech and language, helping them to communicate.

Music therapy can help dementia patients, especially the ones for whom communication is difficult. Music therapy in dementia can help reduce anxiety and agitation in people suffering from dementia. It’s important to note that through music therapy the therapist, carers and family members are also able to understand the possible causes of the symptoms and how to act when any dementia-related episode occurs.

For example, when music therapy is used in the treatment of a patient suffering from dementia over a period of time, it may be observed that a particular song helps them calm down. The carer or therapist in charge of the patient’s care can then know to sign this particular song when the person with dementia becomes agitated or feeling depressed.

How does music help dementia patients?

Dementia is a multi-faceted condition. Music, through its many shapes and sizes, can help patients who suffer from dementia in many ways. What is great about music therapy for dementia is that it can be included in their dementia care and tailored specifically to them.

Usually, music therapist would work with dementia patients through musical expression, focusing on the memories, feelings and emotions it evokes. Many times therapist would use music from the older days, such as wartime songs, which bring back memories for dementia patients. The unconscious emotions of a dementia patient are activated with the help of music therapy. Even if many times dementia patients cannot even remember their name or who they are speaking to, the music from their past will bring back fond memories for them.

Music therapy enhances a person’s quality of life and it offers independence to a dementia patient. Music therapy in dementia allows the person to come out of their shell and feel less isolated. A common symptom of dementia is taking away a person’s hunger for life and leaving them lifeless sometimes, without motivation to even get out of bed. This is how music therapy can help them.

Music therapy can help to improve the overall physical and mental wellbeing of a dementia patient. Music therapy can make them remember long-forgotten memories, it can positively improve their moods and offer them a sense of control over their life.

Other approaches to the treatment of dementia can often prove ineffective. Medication often does not offer the desired results and often comes with many side effects. But music therapy can manage the pain and discomfort of a person with dementia.

Music therapy has so many benefits for dementia patients and it comes with no side effects. Music therapy in dementia can stimulate a dementia patient’s interest, bring back their joy for life and promote interaction with others.

All in all music therapy is an excellent tool in dementia care, its benefits to dementia patients being obvious. Music therapy in dementia promotes a person’s independence and it helps to control dementia symptoms such as agitation, depression or anxiety.

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