How Music Helps People with Alzheimer’s

When you listen to your favorite music, how does it make you feel?

Music has a healing power that affects us in deep and profound ways. Even for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, music as therapy provides a healthy dose of “medicine.”

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music can “… enhance memory, improve communication, and provide unique opportunities for interaction.”

The neurologist and psychologist, Dr. Oliver Sacks, said that for people with Alzheimer’s, music “…brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can” and that music “can have a power beyond anything else to restore them to themselves, and to others, at least for a while.”

As a caretaker for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, try using music as a way to help improve their quality of life. But be sure to choose music that relates to them – music, for example, that could evoke memories of a younger, happier time.

Connie Tomaino, founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, says, “If someone you know is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, start associating key songs with family members or ideas. Later, those songs may trigger that association.”

Even if your loved one has progressed beyond the early stages, music still has the power to connect. For example, when a woman was encouraged to sing to her husband who had Alzheimer’s for many years, “he looked at me and seemed to recognize me. On the last day of his life, he opened his eyes and looked into mine when I sang his favorite hymn… Music therapy gave me that memory, the gift I will never forget.”

Learn more about how you can use the power of music therapy to enhance the life of your loved one with Alzheimer’s.