Help for People with Dementia: Try Music
Music is helping people with dementia reconnect with memories. For their loved ones, listening together is a bridge that may enable them to share recollections seemingly forgotten long ago. That engagement can bring incredible joy to people living with debilitating health conditions.
This phenomenon is documented in the film Alive Inside, as social worker Dan Cohen demonstrates the power of music to combat memory loss. He created the Music and Memory program that instructs nursing homes on how to develop individualized playlists for people with dementia and other health concerns that impact their quality of life. This model is used at Cedar Village to develop individualized playlists for people with dementia and other health concerns, improving their quality of life.
Alive Inside film writer, director and producer Michael Rossato-Bennett will share his experience with Music and Memory during a free screening of the movie on Tuesday, October 25, 2016. The event is being hosted at Cedar Village, a senior community in Mason, Ohio.
At Cedar Village, we witness the benefits of music every day. The residents or their family members help to develop a playlist of meaningful songs that are put on their ipod. This customized playlist is available for them to listen at any time. Jill Smigel, a Music and Memory participant says that listening to her music always lifts her spirits.
The film is so moving that it has triggered global interest in affects of music on individuals with cognitive decline. It sparked the development of the Alive Inside Foundation. The documentary won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
Here is some advice from the Cedar Village team about how to engage someone with memory loss through music:
- Choose music that is meaningful to the program participant.
- If possible, get the participant involved in selecting the music by asking questions like: Do you like Broadway shows? If you discover someone was in the armed forces, they might like patriotic melodies.
- Ask family members for recommendations too.
- Look for non-verbal reactions when you play certain types of music and see what they respond to.
- Consider having a set of music that is more calming and one that is uplifting.