If you have a loved one that has dementia, sing, sing, sing! Singing and music have been identified as an effective form of therapy in dementia care, helping to improve the quality of life of the elderly living with the condition.
Firstly, let’s understand, what is dementia? Many of us tend to confuse dementia with the natural effects of ageing such as general forgetfulness. However, dementia is actually a condition or set of symptoms caused by damaged nerve cells in various areas in the brain. In simple terms, our brains act as a control centre and in order to perform functions, nerve cells need to send messages to each other. When this breaks down, the “message” can’t be sent, received or understood causing confusion which result in symptoms such as memory loss, mood changes, and difficulty in performing daily tasks. There are many types of dementia with the most common type being Alzheimer’s. As the condition progresses, difficulties communicating can also become increasingly serious.
While unfortunately there is no cure for degenerative conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, and the effects can not be reversed, early detection helps carers and loved ones to prepare for patient care and to identify steps to slow down the progression of symptoms through mental exercises, as well as ways to make life with dementia just a little bit more manageable.
Various studies have been undertaken over the years to find out whether music therapy and singing is helpful in any way with this respect. Thankfully, research such as this study published on National Institutes of Health (USA) offer hopeful conclusions that singing and various forms of music therapy in long-term elderly and dementia care have a significantly positive effect on patients’ quality of life and in improving their psychological and emotional well-being.
The auditory system in the brain is the first to be fully developed in a human at just 16 weeks into life. This strong and everlasting connection with music therefore becomes hugely beneficial to patients. In cases where a patient may struggle to communicate using language, they can still very likely remember songs from happier times, and even be able to play musical instruments as they previously could before, giving them a small yet not insignificant reprieve from the challenges of living with the often frustrating symptoms of dementia.
Click on the links below for additional info on singing and music therapy for dementia:-