Individuals who suffer from dementia may be able to hold off the rate at which their memory slips, and their surroundings may play an important part in helping them function as long as possible. If you are looking for a memory care facility for your parent or loved one, ask about how music is incorporated. Or, if your loved ones are already in a memory care center, ask staff members about ways to add more music into their daily lives.
Physical activities, socialization and intellectual activities are all shown to help slow cognitive decline in the elderly, and playing music for residents can help in all three of these areas.
Improving Physical Health Through Music
Music can increase movement. You know how when your favorite song comes on you sometimes just want to dance? That's true for elderly memory care patients, too. Playing music can help them move, even if just while sitting -- they may get more movement while listening to music than any other activity in their day.
What's more, those people who are able to engage in physical activity and do it regularly often show improvements or lack of decline in cognitive function. But people who are physically active and do so to music show even higher levels of improvement.
Look for memory care facilities that offer a variety of opportunities for physical movement and combine this with music to help your loved one take advantage of this benefit.
Providing Intellectual Stimulation Through Music
Researchers have known for a while that staying mentally engaged, such as through playing musical instruments, can help to ward off dementia and diseases like Alzheimer's. Playing music can also help slow cognitive decline in already diagnosed sufferers. If your loved one already plays an instrument, look for ways to continue their ability to practice and play in their memory care facility. Many facilities have keyboards or pianos available to residents.
But there's also evidence that listening to music can help improve cognitive function in those already suffering memory loss. Classical music, in particular, seems to help people's memories -- but any kind of music may have the potential to help.
Engaging With Others Through Music
There are other reasons why memory care facilities may work to engage residents through music. Patients can feel better about themselves, interact more pleasantly with other residents and staff members, and appear to have a higher quality of life when they are in good moods.
Dementia patients may sometimes be difficult to work with or become confused and irritable, but playing music can help calm them and reduce anxiety. Upbeat music, even when people haven't heard it before, can improve mood.
As well, music can help people remember specific events and feelings from the past. This can improve their cognitive abilities during their day-to-day lives by giving them some connection to who they were. This can often help them to feel more like relating to others, and can even help them remember faces and identities of family members.
Talk to a memory care facility like Gateway Living, or those you are considering, to find out how they incorporate music into the day-to-day lives of their residents.