Music Works in Dementia Care

A rich body of research is supporting the benefits of music in dementia care. Here are ten reasons why music works in dementia care:

  1. Music can stimulate neural pathways: singing, active music making, and even listening to music can regenerate neural pathways, helping to maintain and restore brain health.
  2. Music-making can increase socialization: listening to music, participating in a choir, reminiscing over a favourite old record, singing with a nurse, family member or care provider – these are all ways that music reduces the isolation that is such an endemic concern for persons living with dementia.
  3. Music-making can improve cardiovascular health: singing, playing an instrument, or moving one’s body to music increases circulation and promotes general cardiovascular wellness.
  4. Music-making can maintain motor range and function: playing to a steady beat and to a desirable melody keeps bodies moving and motivation flowing.
  5. Music can encourage conversation and reminiscence: sharing memories over old familiar songs can create intimacy and closeness that validates selfhood and form new bonds.
  6. Music can foster peer relationships: through group-music activities like choirs, dancing and singalong groups, or through simple music appreciation together like going to concerts or listening to records, music can stimulate new connections between peers.
  7. Music-making can improve mood: music is a tried-and-tested, time-old mood booster and can change a person’s affect within seconds.
  8. Music can help with orientation and routine: having cue songs – such as a wake-up tune or a washing-up song, or seasonal songs – can orient throughout the day to certain tasks or throughout the year to certain seasons.
  9. Music can decrease agitation: finding the right music to calm and soothe a person is an individual task, and can work wonders for supporting people feeling stressed or agitated.
  10. Music can facilitate meaningful relationships between care partners and across generations: music is something that touches everyone’s lives one way or another, and can be a great equalizer in relationships across the spectrum of care!

The Pathways Singing Program has been specifically designed for working with people with dementia.