As we age, it is common for our cognitive abilities to decline, which can lead to a range of cognitive impairments. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 6 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is considered the most common cause of dementia.
Cognitive impairment can affect an individual’s quality of life and make it difficult to perform daily tasks or communicate effectively. While there is no cure for dementia, researchers have found that there are ways to improve the lives of those affected, one of them being the use of music therapy.
Music has been an integral part of human culture for thousands of years. It has the power to evoke emotions and memories, plus improve overall well-being.
For older adults with cognitive impairment, music can be particularly beneficial. In this blog post, we will explore how the healing power of music can benefit adults with cognitive impairment.
What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy is the use of music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. It has been found to be beneficial and is used in a variety of settings, such as nursing homes, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers.
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that music therapy may improve the cognitive function of older adults with dementia. Participants in this given study who received music therapy improved scores on cognitive tests compared to those who did not participate in music therapy.
Listening to music can stimulate various parts of the brain. Some of these parts include those responsible for:
The study also found that music therapy can improve mood and reduce behavioral concerns in older adults.
Quality of Sleep
Another published study found that listening to music can improve sleep quality in older adults with cognitive impairment. Sleep disturbances are common for older adults with cognitive impairment and can lead to agitation and confusion during the day.
The study found that participants who listened to music prior to bedtime experienced improved sleep quality and were awake for shorter periods during the night because music has a calming effect on the mind and body. Playing music before bedtime can help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. Music therapy can also help reduce pain and discomfort.
How Does Music Therapy Work?
First, it is essential to note that not all music is created equal when it comes to music therapy. It’s best to customize the music based on the individual and what they are familiar with or find meaningful.
For example, if they enjoyed listening to country music in their youth, playing that type of music will be more effective than playing smooth jazz.
Listening to familiar music can evoke memories and emotions that may be difficult to access through other means and therapeutic methods. It is believed that music can activate different areas of the brain that can channel these memories and emotions.
In-Home Memory Care
Music therapy can be a powerful tool in improving the quality of life for older adults with cognitive impairment. It can help improve sleep quality, cognitive functioning, and overall mood.
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