Dementia and Music
In my experience music can reach many individuals who suffer from dementia in a very special way.
We asked families to tell us the resident’s favourite music which we recorded onto an ipod, the music was specifically chosen for them.
For some residents it had a remarkable effect.
For one gentleman who had very little interaction with his wife or carers, and very little interest in anything it gave him a real interest in something. He was much more expressive and animated, and he started communicating with everyone.
His wife admitted that when she was first asked to try this, she was really sceptical.
She said that she could not believe the difference in her husband, he was much more happy, he showed a real interest in everything and his quality of life improved dramatically due to the music.
An improved or good quality of life for any elderly person should be every nurses or carer’s goal.
Music has dramatically improved many resident’s quality of life, It has been wonderful for the person and very special for their families.
Music has power especially for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
It can spark compelling outcomes even in the very late stages of the disease.
When used appropriately, music has the power to change mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.
This happens because rhythmic and other well-rehearsed responses require little to no cognitive or mental processing.
A person’s ability to engage in music, particularly rhythm playing and singing, remains intact late into the disease process because, again, these activities do not mandate cognitive functioning for success.
Most people associate music with important events and a wide array of emotions.
The connection can be so strong that hearing a tune can evoke a memory of the event and take the person back to that time and place.
Prior experience with the piece is the greatest indicator of an individual’s likely response.
Music that is soothing for one person may remind another of the loss of a loved one and be tragically sad.
If the links with the music are unknown, it is difficult to predict an individual’s response.
Therefore, observe a person’s reaction to a particular arrangement and discontinue it if it evokes distress, such as agitation, facial grimaces or increasing muscular tension.
It is such a simple idea but is really worth trying as it can make a difference.
Click here for a person centred Nursing Care Plan for dementia.