Personalized Music Helps People with Dementia and Their Care Partners
Caring for a person with Alzheimer's or a related dementia is one of the most challenging responsibilities imaginable. Caregivers not only need to help with activities of daily living but must also establish an emotional connection that makes the care recipient feel comfortable.
A significant amount of evidence shows that personalized music can help people with dementia feel more like themselves, increasing quality of life and decreasing caregiver burden. Take the quiz below to see if you are fully utilizing personalized music as caregiver.
The Science Behind Personalized Music and Memories
There are a wide variety of research studies that demonstrate the power of personalized music to enhance care for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. The research regarding music’s ability to help people reminisce is particularly fascinating.
A 2009 study from the University of California shows personalized music triggering an area of the brain linked to autobiographical memories and emotions. That area of the brain (in the medial prefrontal cortex) is one of the last areas of the brain to atrophy over the course of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study’s author explain’s how the findings connect to people with Alzheimer's:
The Man Who Inspired Millions: Henry
Henry is featured in Alive Inside, a moving documentary about music’s healing powers. The clip of Henry not only demonstrates how personalized music can evoke joyful feelings but also how music activates the brain, helping a man who is mostly non-verbal socialize about his past.
Using Music for Non-musical Purposes
Not only does personalized music have therapeutic benefits for people with dementia, but it can also help friends, family and professionals as caregivers. You can use music for non-musical purposes.
Initiating a Routine - An upbeat dance song with quick tempos might result in movement, such as arm swinging or toe tapping. As a caregiver, you might use this type of music to help initiate a routine like getting dressed in the morning.
Improve Brain & Physical Health - Research shows that singing and dancing improve brain and physical health. Encourage song and dance in a way that's comfortable, whether privately or as part of a group.
Facilitating Relaxation - Songs with sentimental connections can help people feel calm, content or happy. This can be especially useful to prepare for potentially stressful situations such as social outings, doctor visits or even sundowning.
Personalized Digital Music is a Practical, Low Cost Solutions
Equipment Need to Get Started
The technology needed to provide personalized music is becoming increasingly affordable. There are two primary options for building a digital music playlist:
Computer and MP3 Player - Family caregivers can use a computer to save a personalized music to an MP3 player.
Smartphone and/or tablet with wireless internet - Family caregivers can use free internet services, such as YouTube, to save personalized music to a smartphone or tablet.
Download a Free Quick Start Guide
Enter your name and email address below to receive a free copy of our quick start guide to Using Digital Music as Caregiver. The guide provides step-by-step instructions for exploring music, creating playlists and incorporating personalized music into a care plan.
Access the Free Online Course
Enroll in our free online course for detailed lessons on using music as a caregiver, including:
- The Science Behind Music & Cherished Memories
- Using Music for Non-musical Purposes
- Building a Personalized Playlist
- Incorporating Music into Caring
- Options for Creating a Digital Music Playlist
- YouTube Tutorials for Creating a Music Playlist
- Group training handouts