Are you feeling blue? Overwhelmed? Take heart – or take up singing.
The almost magical affect music has on those suffering from dementia are well established, but what about those who care for them?
Here’s some good news: I just read about a study that showed a wonderful side-benefit to music therapy. It seems that it does more than enhance the quality of life of dementia patients – it also appears to improve the mood and emotions of caregivers.
Another surprise, according to this five-month study conducted in the UK, was that the benefit lasted well after the trial ended, measurements taken two months later showing continued improvement.
Music is the language of the soul. It appears to enter the brain differently than words alone or other noise. To gain the most benefit from musical therapy, it is important to be engaged in the music somehow, rather than just having it play in the background.
A few ways to really engage are:
Singing, humming or whistling is the best way to connect to the music. Also, the use of headphones can be helpful as well as viewing a music video. The most effective songs seem to be the tunes from a persons ‘formative years’. For my Mama, who was born in 1931, the top hits of the 1940s as well as hymns had the most impact on her. A variety of online sites such as www.youtube.com can provide easy access to a variety of music videos.
Not sure what music is best? Try a song and watch for a positive reaction. Develop a playlist. If it turns out that the list is short, it is okay. If someone has dementia, songs can be played over and over again as long as they are helpful to the listener.
Have you noticed this to be true in your experience?