Music and Alzheimer's
Listening and playing music can provide emotional and developmental support to Alzheimer's patients, according to research.
Alzheimer's patients experience memory problems due to the gradual impairment of their brain. This condition also affects other mental functions, causing nervousness and disorientation in many patients. According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5.7 million people have Alzheimer's in the US alone.
Music is a magical thing that can help us relax. It can walk us down the memory lane, triggering emotions, and giving us space to dream. While many researches have been done to tap into how music works with our minds, one thing is for sure: music affects our brains in complex ways.
The good news is that music can help people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Listening and learning music has been found to strengthen the memory of Alzheimer's patients, in addition to stabilizing their emotions. A new research indicates that music enhances cognitive performance in people having Alzheimer's and other types of dementia.
Using music to cope with Alzheimer's
Music can improve subjective memory functions and objective mental performance in people experiencing cognitive decline that gradually leads to Alzheimer's. Individuals who have Alzheimer's are encountered by a world that is unaccustomed to them. They experience severe anxiety and disorientation, which affects their quality of life.
Alzheimer's patients should consider enrolling to music lessons. Playing instruments and learning other forms of music will help enhance the salience network of the brain that is still moderately functional.
Structured music lessons are like mathematics and architecture. They are grounded in connections between different notes. While you may not be aware of it, your brain gets engrossed in immense computations to make sense of the notes.
Professor Daniel J. Levitin notes in his book This Is Your Brain On Music that musical activity engages almost every area of the human brain and ‘every neural subsystem.’ This means that whether you are playing an instrument or listening to a song, your entire brain becomes involved in the process. When playing an instrument, your brain works to establish coordination between your hands while reading notes at the same time.
To function properly, the salience network of the brain must sense as to what factors from the outside environment are significant enough to trigger a reaction from the body. Music can rouse the undamaged areas of the brain’s salience network, leading to improved recall memory and emotions.
When you are playing an instrument, it improves your cognitive functions holistically. Music lessons use multiple aspects to improve the memories and emotions in Alzheimer's patients, including:
When all of these aspects are tied together, it can be a vigorous exercise for the brain and help improve cognitive functions. Playing music also creates pleasant feelings, which also has a significant cognitive effect. When people with Alzheimer's learn music, they feel rewarded and pleased.
Music can also help patients with Parkinson’s disease and those who are having mobility problems arising from a stroke.
Music lessons – a game changer in managing Alzheimer's
Music lessons can be used as an initial phase intervention to manage and strengthen the brain’s natural functioning in children suffering from Alzheimer's. The most important result of this approach is that when Alzheimer's patients learn music, it helps prevent the brain’s decline. Music not only improves their brain functions but also boosts their social skills.
The best thing is that learning music is a simple, inexpensive, and non-invasive approach to manage Alzheimer's in children. Music is an excellent way to reach beyond Alzheimer's and reach the person, not just the patient. Music triggers emotions that help recall memories, even in people having severe Alzheimer’s.
When you reach for some memorable music, particularly if it comes from the time that you want to recollect, it can expose you to different emotions. For example, listening to the Beatles may remind you of the first time that you saw the love of your life and trigger enchanting emotions.
Likewise, when music is paired with the daily activities of individuals with Alzheimer's, it can lead to a rhythm that would help them recall memories of the specific activities. This can improve the mental ability of the patient over time. Musical aptitude is one of the lasting abilities in Alzheimer's patients. It remains long after other skills pass.
Emotional and physical closeness
In advanced stages of Alzheimer's, patients lose the ability to be emotionally and physically close with caregivers. Music keeps the patients ambulatory, which creates emotional and physical closeness with the caregivers. Music strengthens emotions in the patients, leading to hugs, kisses, and touching. As a result, the patients feel more secure and can recall memories. Music lessons activate all areas of the brain, helping the patients exercise unusually more mind power.
Alzheimer's patients mostly experience mood disruptions and stress. Music can help shift mood and manage stress, besides leading to other helpful exchanges. Music lessons can have a tremendous relaxing effect on the minds of individuals with Alzheimer's. For instance, slow music can soothe and relax them by reducing blood pressure and stress hormones.
Music lessons and cognitive ability
Structured music lessons drastically improve cognitive abilities in children, including those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It can improve language-based cognition, visual and spatial memory, and short and long term memories. After enrolling your kid in our music class, you can rest assured that he or she will experience improvement in academic performance as well. If your child has Alzheimer’s disease, music can help improve his or her quality of life.
Contact us to discuss music lessons in that context.
Other music topics from our music school’s blog
Check out other articles directly on our blog