There has been much in the news lately about the benefits of music and art as therapy for people with Alzheimer's Disease. I've written here many times of my direct experience singing for and with those with AD and music's seemingly miraculous ability to "awaken" and enliven the listeners. It doesn't always work, of course, nor do the same people react the same way to the same program on different days. However, the effect is real and what's more, it has excellent benefits for caregivers, too.
Here is an link to an article on the subject appearing in the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease e-newsletter:
With the widespread use of iPods and smartphones, and streaming capabilities, the technology is already in the hands of many people to take advantage of having personalized music available for use by the caregiver, the one receiving care, as well as both sharing the experience of enjoying the music together. The documentary, Alive Inside, brings home the power of using personalized music with nursing home residents, whose time is typically 90% idle outside of normal daily living activities. According to a recent article in the AARP Bulletin, titled "The Healing Power of Music", there are as many therapeutic (and fun!) uses of music as there are seniors and caregivers to enjoy it! New research shows that music can improve the mood of those with neurological impairment, but it also improves cognitive skills and can reduce the need for anti-psychotic drugs. In addition to helping those in facilities, another main point of connection and intimate sharing can be achieved through caregiver and receiver listening to favorite music together. For spouses, in which one is memory-impaired, music can be a wonderful source of good feelings, when cognitive loss prevents the sharing of memories in other ways. Speaking from personal experience as a daughter/caregiver, I know how deeply meaningful it was to see the spark of joy and recognition in my mother's eyes as we listened to her favorite music together.
Although I personally believe the power of music is best demonstrated through live performance, with human contact, eye contact and smiles thrown in for good measure, there are limits to bringing live performance into facilities or into private homes for that matter (and there are only so many hours a live singer can perform!) So, using the very personalized music that brings good memories to an individual via an mp3 player, such as an iPod, is a wonderful, resilient, untiring good substitute to help fill the empty 90% of time spent idle.
And, as a great side benefit, caregivers can use the device to explore using relaxation, stress-reduction and visualization/meditation tracks or streamed music to help them cope with the daily challenges and stress that caregiving almost always entails. Music is indeed a powerful healing force!
And I was excited to hear of a new concept for a choir, formed in Minnesota, which brings those with early Alzheimer's or cognitive impairment and their care partners together to sing. The project, called Giving Voice Chorus, brings the joy of singing, social interaction, a sense of purpose and accomplishment and just plain fun together for participants. What a fabulous idea! Here's a short video presentation by the founders:
Karen is a compassionate, enthusiastic student of life, who cared for her mother for 17 years. She brings her insights, compassion, experience and desire to share knowledge and healing to this ongoing conversation with others on the caregiving path. If you are caring for a parent, spouse, friend or other loved one this site offers sanity-saving tips, open-hearted self-care ideas, and an open forum for discussion, connection and sharing resources for the journey.
All Acceptance Aging Together Alan Cohen Alive Inside Movie Alzheimer's Alzheimer's Prevention A Mind Of Your Own Anxiety Aromatherapy Audio Therapy For PTSD Austin Air Hepa Filter Autism Back Care Video Beginner's Mind Being Present Blessing For Caregivers Books Brain Insulin Butterfly Story Calm Calm.com App Care For Veterans Caregiver Advocate Caregiver Coalition Caregiver Comfort Kit Caregiver Guilt Caregiver Retreat Caregiver's Serenity Prayer Caregiver Stress Caregiver Support Care Giving Caregiving Vulnerability Care In Hospital Caterpillar Into Butterflies Chamomile Tea Cindy Laverty Comedian Computers & Exercise Crisis Dan Cohen Deepak Chopra Delirium Depression Diabetes Disaster Preparedness Distractions Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa Dr. Oliver Sacks Eden Alternative Eldershire Elizabeth Dole Foundation Emergency Planning Emergency Preparation Emerson End Of Caregiving Enough Already Escapism Essential Oils Food Safety Forgiveness Funny Stories Gaiam.com Gail Sheehy Gift Of Alzheimer Gift Of Healing Presence GMO Food Green House Project Gregory Fricchione Md Grief Guilt Happy Light Healing Holding Hands Home As Sanctuary Hope Hospital Caregiving Hospital Stay Humor Inspirational Reading Ipods For Nursing Homes Isolation Jacksonville James E. Miller John Denver Johns Hopkins Study John T. McFadden Jon Kabat-Zinn Kelly Brogan Kirtan Kriya Meditation Lao Tzu Laugh Laughter Lavender Loneliness Loss Of Purpose Love Love In The Nursing Home Maya Angelou Mayo Clinic Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Blog MD Meditation Meditation Garden Melatonin Memory Memory Cafe Military Caregiver Mindfulness Meditation Mr. Bean Music Music & Alzheimer Music And Memory Neurological Research Noise Pollution Operation Family Caregiver Opportunity Overnight Respite Care Pandemic Passages In Caregiving Patience Paul Coelho Peace Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Power Of Love Prayer PTSD Quality Of Sleep Radical Contentment Relaxation Releasing Problems Renewal Research Respite Rewind Rodney Yee Rosalynn Carter Rosalynn Carter Institute For Caregiving Rowan Atkinson Sanctuary Sanity Self Care Serenity Silence Sleep Slowing Time Solutions Soothing Music Stress Stress Relief Sun Sunshine Support For Caregivers Tai Chi Thanksgiving The Care Company The Kiss Time Traumatic Brain Injury Travel With Alzheimer's Person Treat VA Caregivers Valentine's Day Verilux Veteran Farms Veterans Veteran Suicide Vitamin D Wayne W. Dyer Wellness Wendell Berry White Noise William H. Thomas Worry Yoga Yoga Video