Modern researchers have now discovered that music can soothe those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at University of Utah Health recently tested whether they could alleviate anxiety in patients with dementia by playing familiar music to them using headphones and a hand-held music device. Anxiety and agitation are two of the most disruptive aspects of living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for both patients and caregivers.
After the researchers helped the patients pick meaningful music, they used a functional MRI to record the changes in the brain while the music played. The brain images showed that music helped the areas of the brain known as the salience network, the visual network, the executive network, and the cerebellar and corticocerebellar networks all work with better connectivity. These areas of the brain activate language and memory, according to the study’s authors.
“When you put headphones on dementia patients and play familiar music, they come alive,” Jace King, lead author of the study, said in a press release. “Music is like an anchor grounding the patient back in reality.”
Music and movement are the last things to go in the brain.
It’s almost miraculous what music can do for Alzheimer’s patients and the research about the benefits is there.
Health care providers have seen firsthand how much music helps dementia patients. with the clients there.
Play songs from their era that they might recognize. Patriotic songs are also popular.
Music touches people on so many levels.
The reaction by dementia patients to music was also dramatically demonstrated in the 2014 documentary, Alive Inside. Elderly care professionals can set up personalized playlists on iPods for their patients. The music helps the patients access the deep memories not lost to dementia. It also helps them converse and socialize in ways they weren’t doing before the familiar music became a part of their daily life.