How to Use Music in Dementia Treatment

Music helps ease dementia symptoms by increasing memory recall, helping the patient experience a happier mood, and reducing the amount of pain that a person feels by relaxing them and taking their mind off their symptoms. Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities know that music is able to help ease dementia symptoms, but if you are providing home care for a loved one with dementia, you might not know how to adequately utilize this vital tool. Here are some ideas for working music into your senior's dementia treatment program.

1. Go to Shows

If you live near a city, look up the schedule of the symphony for the coming season and see what they are playing. Then, use an online music streaming service or go to the library to get CDs of the works that are going to be played in the next few months. Then, play the music throughout your house during daily tasks, such as bathing and dressing. See if the music seems to resonate with your senior. If it does, purchase tickets for the day that the symphony is playing that composer or that particular piece. You should be able to get a senior discount for your elderly relative, or even a veteran's discount if your relative was in the military.

If possible, see if any of your relative's friends would like to come with you to the symphony. If they can, you will be able to provide soothing stimulation in the form of music to your senior and increase their social opportunities simultaneously.

2. Pair Music and Exercise

Another way to help work music into the life of your senior and reap its benefits is to purchase exercise CDs or tracks that are suitable for seniors and set to music. These CDs or tracks will have exercise instructions that your senior can follow, such as clapping, stomping, walking, or lifting light weights, as well as the number of times that your senior should perform each action. The music will serve as stimulation for the senior and an incentive to do his or her exercises.

3. Allow Your Senior to Choose the Music

Finally, choose a task that your senior completes with you, even if it is just watching you prepare dinner. During this particular task, allow your senior to choose a song or a playlist to listen to during this time. This can give your senior a much needed sense of control over his or her environment. If your senior seems to have trouble making a decision, create a playlist of three to five tracks and only offer these until your senior grows weary of them. Then, cycle in different tracks.

For more advice and information about dementia care, talk to your physician or an assisted living facility.