The Benefits of Music Therapy for Alzheimer’s or Dementia

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Dementia and Alzheimer’s, as is commonly known, affects mostly the elderly over the age of 65. As life expectancy in the developed nations has increased in the recent few decades due to the advancement in the healthcare industry and availability of newer and better treatment options, dementia is a more common affliction than ever before. Despite many recent promising breakthroughs in healthcare, the debilitating condition in seniors is on the rise with no cure yet in sight.

The association between the medical terms Alzheimer’s and dementia is often a source of confusion as these terms are used interchangeably. Dementia is a syndrome and not a disease. A syndrome is a group of related symptoms that cannot be confirmed with a definitive diagnosis. Dementia sufferers have impaired mental cognitive abilities and have trouble with memory, performance of daily life activities and communication.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that leads to dementia and is often grouped under the umbrella of the term dementia. A variety of other health conditions may also lead to the development of dementia, but Alzheimer’s disease is the most common condition or disease that causes dementia.
While younger people can be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the chances of getting the disease increase with age. Moreover, with increasing age, the symptoms of this disease progress until the person is robbed of language, memory and thought.

The exact cause of dementia or Alzheimer’s is still unknown, and there is no known cure. The focus is therefore on finding alternative approaches to improve the quality of life for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients. Recently, a few studies have shown that music therapy can be helpful in treating dementia as it can improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Research has also shown that music therapy may improve the emotional wellbeing of dementia sufferers. Although the exact mechanism of how music therapy works is not exactly clear now, positive results suggested by studies are encouraging.

It has been a long-held scientific theory that there is a strong connection between music and memory. Music is believed to shine a light on memories, providing people with the opportunity to look back into the past and relive some beautiful events and moments of their lives. This would explain why almost everyone remembers their favourite songs of the past, which can be linked to special events in one’s life.

Even as perfectly healthy adults, we know without a doubt that music has the power to improve our mood. In dementia patients, it seems music switches out current thoughts to memories that can refresh their mood and improve their functioning. By lowering depression and anxiety levels, music therapy helps them maintain speech and language capabilities.

Musical aptitude and appreciation for favourite songs are often the last cognitive abilities to succumb to dementia. Music can in some cases reach and engage dementia patients who have lost all other cognitive functions. In fact, in the later stages of dementia, when patients lose the ability to emote, music can bring out emotions and sometimes even get them to dance or show affection by kissing and hugging people.

The research on the benefits of music for the treatment of dementia is ongoing and somewhat inconclusive. There are of course some studies that refute the claims that music therapy has any significant benefit. Hopefully in time more advanced and conclusive studies will establish a concrete link between music therapy and its benefits for dementia suffers. Until such time why not welcome anything that could potentially relieve the symptoms or lessen the disease progression?

At Home Care Assistance Calgary, we believe music can make a difference. That’s why our Home Care Assistance Calgary caregivers are certified by the Music and Memory organization. We are proud to offer this service to our customers as we see the joy that it brings.

For more information on our services, contact Home Care Assistance Calgary at 403-301-3777.

Chuck Terlesky

Home Care Assistance Calgary

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