In the video above, dementia educator Teepa Snow demonstrates how to use music to engage people with brain disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, music is a powerful tool to use with those with Alzheimer’s and dementia because the brain areas responsible for musical memory are largely untouched by these brain diseases.
Here are some tips for using music with your loved one:
- If you aren’t sure of your loved one’s musical preferences, start by trying music that was popular when they were in their teens or early twenties. Is your loved one in their 80s? Try music from the 1940s and early 1950s. Apps such as Pandora and Spotify are inexpensive and allow you to create channels with similar music.
- Respond to their response. If they seem to really enjoy a particular song, make a note of it – and if they respond negatively, switch to something else and make a note of that as well. Add more songs from the artist they enjoy or music of the same type – again, apps allow you to “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” songs and then learns your preferences for each channel.
- Block out other sounds, such as the TV or noise from another room. Try to avoid music that is interrupted by commercials, which may cause confusion.
- Join in. Clap or move your feet and encourage your loved one to join in. Maybe a little dancing or gentle movement together if possible.
- Have a sing-along. Singing together boosts everyone’s mood and builds connection between you – especially if communication is difficult.
- Pay attention after the music. Music stimulates memory and you may hear some wonderful stories! Remember that, depending on the level of your loved one’s dementia, they may believe they are back in the time when they listened to that music. If they mention someone who has passed, just acknowledge the person, and if they talk about seeing them soon, agree how nice that would be.
At Assisting Hands serving Cincinnati, our caregivers are all trained in Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach®to Care and offer compassionate comfort and understanding to your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia. If you are a spouse or family caregiver in need of support, call us to find out how our home care professionals can add life to your loved one’s years and give you peace of mind.