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Music and Memory: How People with Dementia Benefit from Listening to Music


Could you imagine a life without music? Whether it’s jazz, rock, country, or pop, everyone has a special place in their hearts – and brains – reserved for music. It changes our mood, helps us put words to our feelings, and can help us get active. We build stories around our associations with songs – like our first kiss, wedding day, or a fruitful fishing trip. The power of music can bring back feelings and, more importantly, memories.

All of us can benefit from a song in many different ways, but for people with dementia, music can have a significant effect by bringing up lost memories and boosting brain activity.

Here are a few reasons why music can reconnect people to their family, friends, and the world around them:

Music Evokes Emotions

Each of us has our own personal soundtrack to life. We choose to listen to songs at different times to give a moment the right mood. Music makes us feel emotions, and these emotions can bring back memories. Experts in the field say musical aptitude and music appreciation are two of the longest-lasting abilities in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Music has the power to cut through the disease and reach the person.

Music Is Stress Relief

We can all use music to take us to our happy place, relax in distress, or find solace when upset or alone. Music therapy is a clinical and evidence-based treatment that works through music intervention to accomplish individualized goals. We can generally reach people through music right up to the end of life, according to Paul Robertson, a concert violinist and academic who has studied using music in dementia care. When used right, music can shift moods, reduce stress, and coordinate motor movements. Every person is different and has a different response to the treatment, but many will react to the right song.

Singing Is Engaging

It doesn’t matter how good you are at it, singing is one of the most pleasant activities a human can do. Singing activates the left side of your brain, while listening to music sparks the right side. Singing not only engages the neurons in the brain, it brings people together. It gives people a way to come together and connect over a common activity. Listen to music, sing along, and even dance with those you love to recall memories from the past and create new ones.

To learn more about dementia and staying connected to the seniors in your life, visit Matteo Realty Partners.