Think about all the times a song has affected you emotionally. Perhaps you remember the lullabies your parents sang to help you fall asleep as a child. Or the song that was playing during your first dance or your first kiss. Maybe there was an album you listened to on repeat during your formative years to find comfort during a difficult time.

No matter our age, race or nationality, music is one of the most powerful tools for arousing emotions and memories. And research has shown that music can still evoke positive feelings and sensations, even when the brain has been damaged by dementia.

“Music can help us remember something long forgotten, feel a joyous emotion or simply recognize the sensation of a memory,” said Julie Fernandez, a dementia-certified caregiver and director of team development and training at Sonata Senior Living.

That’s why Sonata Senior Living created Duets, a music and memory care program that incorporates research associated with music and dementia, and music and Alzheimer’s, to help our residents feel more comfortable and secure.

Duets by Sonata uses innovative music interventions to reduce stress and anxiety in those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease when words and actions are not enough.

Music’s Effect on Memory, Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Numerous studies have shown that musical memory can survive even when the areas of the brain associated with other forms of recall have been damaged by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Music has also been proven to lift the moods of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s; it can make someone smile and sway long after they’ve lost the ability to communicate. The right song played at the right time has also been shown to reduce anxiety, agitation and depression and even increase heart rate.

Duets by Sonata Music and Memory Program

Duets infographic blue 01.3.20

Sonata Senior Living’s Duets program draws from the science of music and dementia to develop a personalized radio station for each resident. Through wireless headphones, residents can listen to their favorite songs during periods of agitation and anxiety. Music is also offered as a source of entertainment and a means of creating a safe space.

Music is one of the most powerful tools for reducing stress in people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If a resident is feeling overwhelmed, Duets’ headphones can help create a private retreat where they can relax and escape distractions. If someone seems nervous about a bath, a well-chosen soundtrack can help reduce their resistance to receiving help with their personal care.

“The right type of music helps provide the right environment for so many activities,”  said Fernandez. “It can help people enjoy their meal or find their rhythm during physical therapy.”

In addition to personalized music, Duets by Sonata uses music and sounds from nature to create a peaceful, relaxed environment in the common areas of Serenades Memory Care communities throughout Florida.

Music is also used to establish a sense of routine, which has be proven to help ease symptoms like wandering, agitation and further memory loss. Songs are used to get residents excited about group activities, establish that it’s time for dinner and set the mood for a relaxing night’s sleep.

To find which songs will be most impactful for each resident, dementia-certified caregivers at Sonata interview friends and family about their loved one’s favorite albums and genres. The team also pays attention to how each resident responds to the songs and music that are played during group activities.

Sometimes, it’s more art than science.

“It’s very important we discover what type of music each person likes,” said Fernandez. “If someone is having a bad day, we might try playing soft jazz, the ‘Grease’ soundtrack or a patriotic song. Our goal is to find the songs that help each resident feel safe, comfortable and secure.”

For more information on the role of music in memory care, call a Serenades Memory Care Community near you today to schedule a visit →

The Guide To Music & Memory Loss

Music has a profound impact on people living with memory impairment. Download our guide to learn how music can improve quality of life for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Download A Free Guide to Music & Memory Loss