Because of the clear positive results of music therapy for dementia, various charitable foundations now provide iPods to the elderly. More senior homes are providing musical therapists to relieve the mental and emotional anguish that comes with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Music Can Give Life To Those With Dementia or Alzheimer’s
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s now affects more than 5 million Americans. According to The National Institute on Aging, music therapy for dementia can be both a pleasant link to the past, and a nourishing connection to the present. Suzanne Hanser, PhD, department chair of music therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston and former program director of San Francisco’s Alzheimer’s Association has seen the effects of music therapy every day.
“There are certain areas of the brain that are still relatively intact even as a progressive disease like Alzheimer’s takes effect. In particular, the limbic system. And specifically, the hippocampus, which retains long-term memory and has retained emotional impact. Music triggers these long-term memories. So, we see people who have not spoken in years begin to sing songs that they knew in their early teens and early adulthood.”
Music is an expression of humanity and is, in and of itself, healing. It’s something we all understand and something we are all touched by. It is both food for the brain and healing for the heart.