Music has the amazing capacity to alter for the better the way we are feeling at any given time. Familiar tunes can bring cheer, evoke memories, and provide comfort – all of which can contribute to a positive sense of well-being. For older people living with dementia the effects of music can be profound.
Recent research has found that music in its various forms can improve both a person’s physical health and mental well-being, and for older adults it can play an important role in helping tackle a range of age-related problems such as depression, isolation, stress, chronic pain and even memory impairment.
At Quarry Mount we find lots of ways to bring music into the home, and the effects it has on our residents can be amazing to witness.
Reducing stress and anxiety
Listening to your favourite music can have a very calming effect. By slowing the heart rate and reducing levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, music can help people relax – reducing agitation and anxiety, and aiding good sleep.
Improve speech and cognitive skills
For people living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, spoken language can become increasingly difficult as their symptoms develop, making it a challenge to communicate their needs. The areas of the brain associated with music however remain responsive for longer than those responsible for speech, so even after people can no longer express themselves verbally, singing and responding to music provides an excellent channel of communication.
Listening and singing along to well known songs can evoke verbal and emotional memories while learning new songs can help stretch existing skills. Both can help stimulate and engage, providing an important boost to confidence and self-esteem.
Increase social activity
Music provides an opportunity for bringing people together. This could be on a simple one to one basis listening and singing along to a person’s favourite songs, or it could take the form of a group activity involving a few, or indeed many, people.
Musical activity will encourage people to communicate both verbally and through body language and gesture, and can play an important role in alleviating feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Playing music can motivate people to get moving, and as we all know, exercise is good for you! So whether it’s getting on your feet and dancing along to the music, doing a spot of chair dancing, clapping along, or even simply tapping your toes, moving to the music is an enjoyable way to encourage some gentle exercise.
Tackle boredom and improve mood
Music provides a great range of activities that can easily be tailored to the needs, and individual preferences, of each participant. Listening to live performances, singing along to personal playlists, playing an instrument or taking part in an organised music therapy session all provide enjoyable and non-threatening activities that can be enjoyed by all.
So however you choose to take part, there are sound reasons to incorporate music into your daytime routine.
Quarry Mount is a specialist dementia care home in Swindon with a strong sense of community and a truly welcoming atmosphere. The home has been carefully adapted to meet the needs of those living with dementia and our dedicated team of experienced and long serving staff are specialists in dementia care. To find out more about the services we offer, and arrange a visit, please give us a call on 01793 250455 .