Have you ever had music instantly lift your mood? Or take you back to a specific time in your life?
Like our sense of smell, music has the power to evoke the past and spark emotional memories. It has the power to lift our hearts with joy.
And for our loved ones who live with dementia, it connects them with who they’ve been and how they’ve felt. With a single song, a person with dementia can transform from distressed to impassioned.
To help you connect with someone through music, we asked music therapists, dementia care advocates, musicians, and family members three questions:
- How does music help someone with dementia, both physically and emotionally?
- What are your tips for caregivers who want to spark joy through music?
- What songs really strike a chord?
Here are just a few things you’ll learn from this roundup:
- The music/rhythm part of our brains is one of the last affected by dementia. Because our musical memories stay intact for a long time, music can not only affect mood, but reawaken remote memories.
- Each person likes different songs for different reasons. Ask what they’d like to hear, or try playing songs from their youth.
- Listening to music and having a conversation is best.
“When people and places become difficult to recognize,” says Steven Amburn of First Coast Music Therapy, “a familiar song is like gold.” Play it on headphones, pipe it through speakers, sing, dance, sway, or hold hands—and reminisce.
And when you do, watch the person come alive through joy and harmony.
Music Therapy Professional Organizations
Here are some selections to start you off in making your own playlists!
1920s & 1930s