Music has the power to lift our moods and transport us to another time and place. It can reduce stress, ease anxiety and even improve our cognitive function.

That’s why several forward-thinking assisted living memory care communities in Florida are using music as a form of medicine for their residents.

Music as Medicine for People Living With Alzheimer’s

Musical therapy has multiple benefits for those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

#1 – Reduces Negative Symptoms

Music reduces the negative symptoms associated with dementia.

In a Translational Neurodegeneration analysis of five years’ worth of studies reviewing the connection between music and Alzheimer’s and dementia, researchers found the following trends:

  • Music was repeatedly shown to improve moods, decrease anxiety and agitation, and even help people with Alzheimer’s sleep better at night. One study by Gómez Gallego M, et al., showed that music therapy could also help reduce hallucinations and symptoms of delirium.
  • The right song played at the right time can also serve as a distraction, helping reduce anxiety by redirecting someone’s attention away from stressful triggers.

#2 – Improves Memory & Cognitive Function

Music therapy can improve our memory and cognitive function.

Another study, published in Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, showed that people who listened to Vivaldi’s “Spring” from “The Four Seasons” as background music during an autobiographical test experienced stronger recall. Other studies published in the Translational Neurodegeneration medical journal have shown singing along with a favorite tune can improve results on cognition tests. Frontiers in Neuroscience has also linked playing an instrument with improvements in memory, orientation and language skills.

#3 – Music is Non-Invasive

Music therapy is a low-cost, non-pharmacological form of treatment.

Music therapy uses songs and instruments, instead of drugs and needles, to help people with Alzheimer’s and dementia reduce unpleasant symptoms and cognitive decline.

The Types of Music Therapy for Alzheimer’s

Assisted living memory care communities in Florida are using innovative music interventions to help improve the quality of life for their residents living with Alzheimer’s, including:

  • Receptive Music Therapy — This passive approach to musical therapy allows the resident to simply enjoy their favorite songs. They don’t have to sing along (unless they want to) or accompany the song on a drum or recorder.
  • Interactive Music Therapy — This is a more active form of music therapy. As the song is playing, the therapist will encourage the person to sing along or keep the beat on a tambourine.

Until recently, scientists agreed that music therapy was an effective way of relieving agitation among people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, though little research had been done to compare the effectiveness of the different types of treatment.

But a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association revealed new insight for assisted living memory care communities in Florida.

When comparing interactive and receptive musical therapy techniques, researchers were able to link receptive music therapy, the more passive approach, with an overall higher quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s.

Receptive music therapy appears to be more effective at easing agitation and anxiety and reducing behavioral problems than interactive music therapy.

At Sonata Senior Living, we’re always tracking the latest developments in music and Alzheimer’s research. To learn more about our innovative programs, schedule a visit →

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