The use of music interventions as a non-medical treatment to improve cognitive and behavioural symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease has gained popularity in recent years, but the evidence there is not enough evidence for their effectiveness. This blog reveals the connection between music and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, a progressive brain disorder that affects an estimated 5.7 million people in the US. The causes of this brain disorder are not completely understood, but scientists believe they include a combination of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors. In 90% of Alzheimer’s patients, symptoms do not occur until age 60. The risk of Alzheimer’s and related dementias increases with age and doubles every five years beyond age 65. There is currently no cure for this disease, but some medications and therapies can manage symptoms to enhance the quality of life.
Can music therapy help with Alzheimer’s?
Since Alzheimer’s has no cure, researchers focus on improving a patient’s quality of life. Music offers numerous therapeutic benefits for Alzheimer’s patients in different stages of life. Music therapy is most often used for people with cardiac conditions, autism, depression, substance abuse, and Alzheimer’s disease. Its benefits include improving memory, reducing blood pressure, self-reflection, enhanced communication skills, increasing motivation, self-regulation, managing pain, reducing muscle tension, and increasing joy.
This Alzheimer new therapy has been shown to effectively improves cognitive and brain function in people with mental disorders, depression, trouble sleeping, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia. Music therapy’s inexpensive and low-risk nature makes it an effective treatment approach for Alzheimer’s disease. Many research studies show that music therapy helps improves patients’ concentration, improves their ability to communicate with their caregivers and families, and lowers their dependence on psychiatric drugs. Music therapy offers a variety of benefits at each stage of Alzheimer’s. It is especially helpful in the later stage of the disease when patients disconnect from anything happening around them, majorly because of the inability to communicate with others verbally.
How music affects the brain?
Research studies revealed that music stimulates many parts of the brain, especially those areas affecting mood, language, and movement, along with the senses of sight, hearing, sound, and touch. Researchers identify an area of the brain that stores memories by relating them to familiar songs and the emotions associated with those memories. The effect a song has on someone is often determined by a person’s emotional experience with that song. If the song reminds someone of breaking up with their loved one, their response could be less positive than a song associated with happier memories. Patients affected with Alzheimer’s might get stressed in such situations by acting tense, worried or making grimacing facial expressions.
Depending on the type of music, music therapy helps accomplish various things. Stimulating music with quick percussion can motivate patients to stay awake. On the other hand, sedating music might have soothing effects. This type of music works well with patients who feel worried and overloaded with their environment. In the later stages of Alzheimer’s, when the patient stops showing affection to others, but through music or dance, they may move close to others or make affectionate gestures.
Beneficial effects of Alzheimer’s patients
Music therapy is used for various special populations, including those with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. Music is implemented as an important tool to give older adults a wide range of therapeutic benefits.
- It boosts mood and the immune system
This Alzheimer’s therapy works as an instant mood booster. Well, you all might have experienced the jolt of happiness that hits when you listen to a favourite music or a sense of comfort when you hear a song your grandfather once sang. Individuals dealing with dementia can also experience the same feelings, relieving them from the depression and anxiety that often accompanies the disease.
- It enhances movement
One of the biggest therapeutic benefits of music therapy is increased healthy movement. Music allows movement, whether that is swaying, clapping, or dancing. Movement can help Alzheimer’s patients increase balance, strength and strength, which reduces the risk of falling and increases motor function.
- Improves communication
Anyone who has worked as a caregiver for someone living with dementia well knows and understands that verbal communication is not always an effective way to communicate. Instead, other types of non-verbal communication and body language work better when interacting with Alzheimer-affected persons.
Music therapy improved some cognitive psychological, and behavioural changes in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The power of music therapy is often underestimated, but combining music and dance therapy to improve motor and functional impairment would be an interesting line of research.