Whether it’s disco, country, show tunes, classical, or swing, music has proven to help dementia patients interact with others. Experts say that music boosts brain activity and stimulates memories.
“A recent study shows that dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease patients can recall memories and emotions, and have enhanced mental performance after singing classic hits and show tunes from movies and musicals – a breakthrough in understanding how music affects those with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease,” reports Alzheimer’s.net.
Success was greatest when the study participants were led through and sung the songs, as compared to participants who just listened passively to the music. “The singing sessions in the study engaged more than just the brain. As singing activated the left side of the brain, listening to music sparked activity in the right, and watching the group activated the visual areas of the brain. With so much of the brain being stimulated, the patients were exercising more mind power than usual,” the resource described.
Experts add that since music doesn’t require mental processing, dementia patients who lack cognitive function can participate and benefit. Researchers urge caregivers to find music genres that will appeal to their seniors, and discover how music can improve mood, manage stress-induced agitation, and lead to positive interactions.
Experts explain that music conveys emotion and can trigger memories, which helps unlock areas of the brain that release the feel-good chemical dopamine. Bonding hormones are also released when people sing together.
A University of California researcher, who studied subjects’ brain activity as they listened to music, revealed, “What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head. It calls back memories and faces in the mind’s eye.”