Using Music to Change the Mood in Dementia Patients

Listening to old favorites can enhance mood and make potentially troublesome daily living activities such as bathing or dressing go more smoothly for all involved. Music can be used in so many ways and for so many purposes in Dementia Therapy. Find the specific songs that were special to your relative and awaken their interest and attention.  Play songs that have some importance to your loved one. This could range from a favorite hymn to a song by Frank Sinatra.  Try to recall tunes that were special to your loved one in their youth.

Change the mood with soft classical music, lullabies or non-rhythmic instrumental background music. This can reduce agitation and anxiety during periods of sundowning. Music therapists also suggest redirecting agitated patients to participate in a rhythmic activity such as singing, tapping or shaking percussion instruments, drumming or clapping.

To create a sense of comfort and safety as well as engagement, look for classic American folk songs with easy to remember lyrics that most of us learned as children, here is a list of some of the most commonly remembered songs:

“You Are My Sunshine”

“She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain

“You Are My Sunshine”

“This Land is Your Land”

“Amazing Grace”

“Over the Rainbow” – Judy Garland

“Pennies from Heaven” – Bing Crosby

“Moonlight Serenade” – Glen Miller

“A-Tisket A-Tasket” – Ella Fitzgerald

“Moon Glow” – Benny Goodman

“Nature Boy” – Nat King Cole

“Memories are Made of This” – Dean Martin

“Wheel of Fortune” – Kay Starr

“Five Minutes More” – Frank Sinatra

“Look for the Silver Lining” – Chet Baker

The Goldberg Variations – J.S. Bach


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