Music and Alzheimer’s

 Unlock the Memories

What do radio, cassettes, piano lessons, school chorus, and church have in common? Music…. From riding in a car to fellowship with others, music has always been an important part of my life. Music has a way of transporting you to a different time in your life. Childhood songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to Amazing Grace unlock memories and bring back emotions locked in a file somewhere deep inside your mind. Why should this be any different with a person living with Alzheimer’s?

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I have read numerous articles about music and the effects of people living with Alzheimer’s. The articles state that music enhances memory, improves focus and stimulates communication.  It may even lower the need to use psychiatric medications. I have seen magical things happen when music is introduced to people living in a nursing home. The room becomes alive with smiles, open eyes, and tapping toes. Even people who have closed themselves off from those around them begin to sing.

Ok, so your loved one living with Alzheimer’s is living at home. How can you as a caregiver enhance their lives at home with music? It’s basically trial and error. Start with the music they enjoyed. Think about the activities they enjoyed during their lifetime and the music associated with those activities. Did they attend Church? Did they line dance or enjoy watching musicals? What era did they grow up in, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, or 70’s? Did your loved one play an instrument? How about songs they listened to as a small child?

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Now that the ideas are flowing…. Where can you find this magical music? You may play an instrument. Why not put on a private concert? If you still have a stereo, dust it off, tune in the radio and unpack your CD or album collection from years long gone. Did you know there are music channels available on your TV? There are Apps galore that offer all genres of music…Pandora, I Heart Radio and Spotify to name a few. The Firestick is a device that seamlessly connects your smart TV to an Amazon Prime Account. This allows you to select your own personal playlists for hours of your loved ones listening pleasure.

So you’ve collected the music, added the Apps and set up your smart TV. Next question….. When do you incorporate this glorious music into the daily routine? The answer is anytime. You can set the atmosphere for exercise, bath time, or quiet time. It’s easy…..just turn on the music and let it unlock the melodies of their mind.

Enhance their new and ever-changing journey.

It will take some time to figure out what works for your loved one.  Turn on the music and see how your loved one reacts. They might instantly begin singing or it may take a couple songs to prime their mind before they start walking to the beat of the music. Take cues from them, read their body language, the expression their face can speak a thousand words. Remember … It’s trial and error, what works today, may not work tomorrow. Don’t give up. Keep trying. When people living with Alzheimer’s have lost their verbal ability to communicate, Music is the Key to connecting them to the world around them. Open that door for your loved one and enhance their new and ever-changing journey.

 

 

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