The healing power of music therapy

Posted under Blog on November 22nd, 2012 by Editorial Team / No Comments

From the spirit-boosting power of an upbeat tune to a soothing melody for a fractious infant, the healing powers of music have long been known.  But it’s only relatively recently that the benefits of music therapy – beyond entertainment – have been harnessed in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, both by carers and the wider medical community.  

For years, carers have noted that people with Alzheimer’s can still remember and sing songs, even if they have lost the ability to recognize names and faces.  Those who care for individuals with Alzheimer’s have spoken frankly of this profound reaction of many patients to music.  It’s this positive response which prompted the development of an initiative by non-profit organization Music & Memory to provide donated iPods loaded with patients’ favourite music to long-term care facilities. 

A study carried out on participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease found that anxiety and depression levels reduced significantly in those who took part in music therapy.  At the end of the study, which featured music chosen by the participants themselves, most patients commented that they had a recall of some past memories while listening to the music.  Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks has explained such a reaction, saying “music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience.  Music evokes emotion and emotion can bring with it memory.”   

Many hospitals, particularly in the US, hold regular music sessions, with the aim of stimulating positive memories in patients.  This video, featuring residents at an Alzheimer’s Care Centre, shows vividly the positive impact on the patients at a regular music and dance session.  As the wife of one of the residents so rightly puts it: “Music is the universal language.”

If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, you may wish to investigate music therapy further by developing a playlist for your loved one. For suggested songs by era and genre, visit the website of the Institute of Music and Neurologic Function, a non-profit organization offering music therapy programs to improve patients’ physical, emotional and neurological function through music.


Tags: Alzheimer's, music, therapy

A memory for music

Posted under Blog on January 3rd, 2012 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Many people know all too well the devastating effect that dementia can have on the brain, yet it has been found that our memory for music appears to remain undiminished.

Singing for the Brain is a choir run by the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK for people with dementia and their carers. The weekly sessions see even the most seriously affected individuals singing along merrily to tunes of their youth. It seems that music also allows individuals to demonstrate a capacity to remember and learn through increased responses, retention of new lyrics and the creation of new relationships.

Ms  Jill Dean, Singing for the Brain, Regional Leader, recently told The Times ‘’We did ‘If You Were the Only Girl in the World’ and there was a couple singing it looking into each other’s eyes, giggling and holding hands, and the rest of the room were dissolving into tears’.”

For more information, visit the Alzheimer's Society.



Tags: Alzheimer's, carers, dementia, memory, music, singing for the brain



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