by 2gether


How can music help us cope with Alzheimer’s?

In this article we are going to reveal to you how much power you have to influence the daily life of your loved one!

More than that, at the end of this article you will probably find yourselves saying – how come we have never done this before!

There is really no point in beating yourselves up, however, with the new information I’ll present to you, I hope you will find the strength to try and use it, meaning, use music!

In case your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, you have probably already learned that the disease is characterized by a general and regressive disabelce of a wide variety of functions such as memory impairment, IQ, learning ability, motor abilities and social skills, and sleep functions. This disabelce is accompanied by frequent behaviors which include increase in aggressive reactions, confusion, uncertainty characterized by bewilderment, and more. The result of these phenomena is of course affecting the quality of life. Every year about five million new cases are diagnosed worldwide.

Apart from the disabelce of a person suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia or a disease characterized by any kind of memory loss, causes waste damage to the immediate environment, which is forced to cope with a change in family roles, premature loss of character traits of a beloved person changing in front of their eyes and a need for support and rearranging their entire lives.

The traditional treatment includes providing a pharmacological response to maintaining existing functions and preventing further deterioration of additional functions and improving motor skills. However, over the past decade, the side effects associated with pharmacological treatment have been found to be numerous and sometimes exceed the benefit. In an attempt to find a non-pharmacological treatment, additional means of intervention were explored. The use of music, which was first explored in the early 90s’, was found to be very effective.

Music and Language

In the past, when treating Alzheimer’s patients with music, the emphasis was primarily on improving communication functions, thus music was found to be an excellent solution due to its structural nature. Music, like speech, has rhythm, intonation, patterns which include repetitions, accents and more. In Alzheimer’s there is a serious impairment of understanding and producing language. However, it has been found that the ability to produce music is the latest to be affected, and therefore music has been proven to improve cognitive functions, improve verbal abilities, reduce aggressive behaviors and improve sleep quality. There has also been a significant improvement in physiological functions, including increased levels of melatonin, which reduces stress factors and improves mood swings.

Loneliness and belonging

A dementia patient will often confront a sense of loneliness. It was found that participation in a musical intervention group increases the sense of belonging and reduces sadness and depressed behavior which characterize people with dementia. There is also a sense of loneliness among the close family members of the patient due to the reasons mentioned above. Their participation in a musical session may also increase a sense of belonging and a sense of shared destiny, as well as help in creating new memories that are appropriate to the new living situation (as opposed to relying on the gap between the memories that emphasize the skills that existed and that are no longer helpful, meaning assisting by supporting grave and loss).

Connection to emotions as a key to encourage memories

Music therapy invites the patients to connect to feelings which are not permanently accessible to them as a result of his illness, to relive meaningful moments and to remember their identity which faded away due to the coat of darkness and confusion.

When playing, the music invites the patient to exercise motoric skills in an attempt to activate an instrument by manipulating the body, encouraging connections in the brain and stimulating functions the impairment has affected. Being able to be with the music can increase the patient’s sense of capability and increase his motivation for further actions.

These findings, in general, testify the tremendous potential inherent in music used to improve the quality of life.

Recommendations for use of music include recommendations for daily use, recommendations for use of live music which encourages participation and cooperation of the patient.

It is recommended to play music from the late teens or early twenties where it was found that the connection to the emotions and the music we heard are the most significant.

If the music evokes negative emotions, it should be stopped.

Despite these encouraging findings and the high availability of the ability to use music, the research about the potential hidden in the use of music and music therapy is still in its infancy and should be studied further. Therefore, the recommendations in this article are only and mainly preliminary.

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