Published: November 10, 2023
Updated: November 10, 2023
While there is currently no cure for dementia, there are various strategies and therapies that can help improve the quality of life for those living with the condition. One such powerful therapy is music.
Recognizing the power of music for people with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, RAZ Mobility has partnered with the non-profit Mind&Melody to offer virtual music sessions over the RAZ Memory Cell Phone’s video calling feature. More on this later.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of cognitive disorders characterized by a decline in memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, but there are many other forms, including vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. As the condition progresses, individuals with dementia often experience confusion, anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from social activities.
Music has the unique ability to evoke powerful emotions and memories in all of us, regardless of age or cognitive status. For people with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, this emotional connection to music remains intact even as other cognitive functions decline. This phenomenon is rooted in the brain’s complex network of neural pathways and the way music is processed.
When we listen to music, our brains activate regions associated with emotion and reward. Remarkably, these regions can remain relatively preserved in people with dementia, allowing them to engage with music on a profound emotional level.
Thus, even as persons with dementia have difficulty connecting and engaging with people, games … etc, they can connect strongly with music. This can even be the case in the late stages of dementia.
We do not know with certainty the type of music that is most effective for improving cognitive function in those with Alzheimer’s. However, there is at least one study that showed that listening to classical music, such as Mozart, could result in temporary improvement in certain cognitive tasks such as abstract/spatial reasoning. But it is probably not the music itself that has this impact, but the acute arousal resulting from the pleasure of listening to this music. In other words, the music itself has an indirect positive impact on cognitive functions.
One of the most immediate and apparent benefits of music for people with dementia is mood enhancement. Listening to familiar tunes or songs that hold personal significance can trigger feelings of happiness, nostalgia, and comfort. Music has the power to lift spirits, reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, and create a positive atmosphere.
Music has a remarkable way of bridging communication gaps. It can facilitate social interactions among people with dementia and their caregivers, family members, or fellow residents in a care facility. Singing along to songs or participating in music therapy sessions encourages engagement, communication, and a sense of community.
The ability of music to evoke memories is particularly fascinating. Even individuals with severe memory impairment may recall lyrics, melodies, or emotions associated with certain songs from their past. This connection to their personal history can be both comforting and stimulating, allowing them to reminisce and share their stories.
Agitation and anxiety are common symptoms of dementia. Music therapy can help reduce these negative emotions by providing a calming and soothing effect. Slow-tempo music, classical compositions, or nature sounds, for example, can induce relaxation and alleviate agitation.
While music cannot reverse cognitive decline, it can temporarily improve cognitive function in people with dementia. Engaging with music, such as playing an instrument or participating in rhythm-based activities, can stimulate various areas of the brain, potentially enhancing memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.
Your loved one can experience the benefits of music therapy over the RAZ Memory Cell Phone’s video calling feature. They can connect one-on-one with a passionate professional musician for 1-hour sessions using personally meaningful songs to foster stimulation and connection.
For those who are not familiar with the phone, the RAZ Memory Cell Phone is designed to help people with dementia use a mobile device even after they can no longer use a standard phone.
Before purchasing any sessions, you can try a 30-minute one-on-one Mind&Melody music session for free.
Learn more about these sessions here.
Music therapy is a powerful tool for enhancing the lives of people living with dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Music’s ability to evoke emotions, trigger memories, and foster social connections makes it a valuable therapeutic resource. Music therapy provided over the RAZ Memory Cell Phone can offer comfort, reduce anxiety, and improve the overall well-being of individuals with dementia, offering moments of joy and connection during a challenging journey.
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