Music to Their Ears: Why Music is a Powerful Tool in Memory Care

Senior resident listening to music

We’ve all heard the quote, “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” by English playwright and poet William Congreve. Today, music is being used effectively in memory care to calm and soothe the troubled behaviors of those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

“Music is now recognized by memory care researchers as a uniquely effective form of therapy for loved ones living with memory loss,” says Amy Dukes, Memory Care Liaison at AHAVA Memory Care Residence, a Memory Care Center of Excellence in Pittsburgh, PA. As a valuable and proven form of social engagement therapy, activities that harness the power of music are being utilized at leading memory care communities across the nation such as our own AHAVA Memory Care Center of Excellence.”

The Magic of Music in Memory Care

In explaining the value of music therapy, memory care experts say that music creates a portal or  bridge that serves to reconnect loved ones with memory loss to the world around them and helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety, agitation, aggression and apathy. Listening to music and participating in music activities empowers those with memory loss to emerge from the isolation created by their disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association® article, “Music Therapy Enhancing Cognition,” memory care experts count several valuable benefits of music therapy for those living with memory loss. These include:

  • Improved memory and recall

  • Positive changes in moods and emotional states, along with an increased sense of connectedness, belonging and personal dignity

  • Stimulation that reduces apathy and promotes interest even when other approaches are ineffective

  • Opportunities to engage and interact socially with others

  • Non-pharmacological management of pain and discomfort

  • Sense of control in their life

  • Encourages rhythmic, continuous movement and vocal fluency

Music Therapy Tips You Can Use at Home

Providing music therapy as an effective form of memory care in the home is quite easy. All it takes is a little preparation time to research and collect the music that will produce the fondest memories for your loved one and provide the most pleasure and enjoyment. With very little effort, you can help those with memory loss relive the happiest times in their life and also experience a sense of belonging, self-worth and purpose.

The article Music, Art and Alzheimer's offers several useful suggestions that family caregivers can use to provide music to their loved ones at home. For example:

  • Choose Music from Their “Good Old Days” – Identify music that is familiar and enjoyable to your loved one. If possible, let them choose the music.

  • Promote Social Engagement – Singing along and movements such clapping and dancing can add to the enjoyment. You are encouraged to join in the fun!

  • Set the Right Mood – Use music to create the mood you want. For example, a tranquil piece of music can help create a calm environment, while a faster paced song from your loved one's youth may boost their spirits and evoke happy memories.

  • Avoid Sensory Overload – Eliminate competing noises by shutting windows and doors and by turning off the television. Make sure the volume of the music is not too loud.

  • Limit the Interruptions – Choose a source of music that won’t be disrupted by commercials, which can cause confusion. Try internet radio such as Pandora, or use an iPod or CD player.

Amy adds, “In addition to offering valuable benefits to loved ones with memory loss, music can also provide a soothing balm for their highly stressed at-home caregivers.” Memory care therapy experts say that studies show that listening to music can lead to increased secretion levels of melatonin, which helps to regulate mood, lower aggression, reduce depression and improve sleep. Thus, family caregivers should also treat themselves to music that they can enjoy, whether it is relaxing, motivating or inspirational.

Discover a Life Enriching Environment with Purposeful Living and Compassionate Care

If your loved one’s memory loss has reached the point where they need around-the-clock care to ensure safety and well-being, you can trust the AHAVA Memory Care Center of Excellence. At AHAVA, we empower our residents to live engaging and fulfilling lives in our purposefully designed memory care community that features a full social life, new learning experiences and group participation in life-enriching programs.

We invite you to learn more about important memory care topics by visiting our News section that offers at-home caregivers and family members a wealth of helpful information.

To experience our memory care community designed for living, we invite you to call Amy Dukes, Memory Care Liaison, at 412.521.8295 or visit us today.

AHAVA Memory Care Residence . . . For the Love of Seniors

The Jewish Association on Aging’s new AHAVA Memory Care Residence is the only Memory Care Center of Excellence in Pennsylvania certified by The Hearthstone Institute. At AHAVA, we provide the proven approach of Hearthstone’s life-enriching I’m Still Here® programming within a warm and comfortable atmosphere. With the Hearthstone approach, the expertise of our caregivers, the support of our community, and a purposeful design for those with memory loss, AHAVA Memory Care Residence is Pittsburgh’s premier resource for Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

The choice to partner with The Hearthstone Institute came from the desire to provide truly unique and specialized memory care programming to our residents. As a recognized leader in the field of Alzheimer’s care and founder of The Hearthstone Institute, Dr. John Zeisel’s philosophy and approach deeply aligns with ours – to create nurturing environments where those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss can flourish. We have created an atmosphere of hope for our residents and their families – a place where everyone cares for, respects, and loves one another.

Built with purpose and love, and designed for living, AHAVA Memory Care Residence is more than just a place to be cared for – it’s a place to experience joy. Our personalized memory care program, delivered within a licensed assisted living community, provides the dignified assistance that’s needed, along with the lifestyle, services, and amenities that are desired.

Please contact us today or call us at 412.521.8295 for more information or to arrange a personal tour.