A rich body of research is supporting the benefits of music in dementia care. Here are ten reasons why music works in dementia care:
- 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.
- 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.
- Music-making can improve cardiovascular health: singing, playing an instrument, or moving one’s body to music increases circulation and promotes general cardiovascular wellness.
- Music-making can maintain motor range and function: playing to a steady beat and to a desirable melody keeps bodies moving and motivation flowing.
- Music can encourage conversation and reminiscence: sharing memories over old familiar songs can create intimacy and closeness that validates selfhood and form new bonds.
- 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.
- Music-making can improve mood: music is a tried-and-tested, time-old mood booster and can change a person’s affect within seconds.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.