Music and Dementia

music and dementia

Music and Dementia, Activating the Mind

Music has a way of connecting with the mind; it has been found to be extremely helpful and calming to those with dementia. Numerous studies have shown that utilizing music to work with those with dementia in a variety of ways is extremely successful; including helping caregivers to calm patients, invigorate their mind and most of all, recognize and react to certain tunes by creating increased brain activity.

The Connectivity – Music and Dementia

Music actually creates a boost in brain activity. Music and dementia have been closely researched and documented; with the main reason for the positive effect on those with dementia being based on how music effects the brain overall.

  • It evokes emotion – No matter who the composer, performer, or style; music is based upon a sea of emotions that created the piece. Most likely it is because music is generally written with so much emotion that it will also evoke the emotions of those listening to it.
  • Music brings back moments in time – Especially as we age, more and more pieces of music will bring a piece of memory or a moment in time associated with it. Remember, these memories don’t even have to be a complete memory; it can be a portion of time set aside, a moment, or an inner sensation.
  • Engagement – It’s not unusual to find someone with dementia singing some of the lyrics or humming to tunes they’ve loved in earlier years. Getting their minds to engage with their body through music is one of the best ways to keep the mind flow.
  • Physical Closeness – If the person with dementia still has some ambulatory abilities it is an amazing opportunity for them to have physical closeness with loved ones. We all know that there is nothing more relaxing or soothing than human touch.

Dr. Jane Flinn, a neuroscientist at George Mason University in Virginia, performed an abstract study in which she confirmed that two of the last abilities that remain with Alzheimer’s patients are musical appreciation and musical aptitude.  This means that utilizing music could be one of the best ways to continue connecting with your loved one throughout their dementia from early onset through.

It’s never too early to start enjoying time with your loved one with music. After all music stimulates the mind and the reaction can include putting a smile on your faces, butterflies in your stomach, a skip in your step and most of all, a method to connect. Let a professional caregiver handle the activities that take you away from your loved one; giving you the time to create moments with them for as long as you can while resting assured that the small things in life are taken care of by a professional.


Photo by Christiaan Triebert