Our music cheers us when we are down, helps us to celebrate our successes and is a faithful companion on a road trip or just hanging out at home. Most of us make music a sigificant part of our lives in some way. You don’t have to be musically talented to love music. It should be no surprise to us that music continues to be a powerful tool when communicating with someone who has dementia. Music can stimulate long term memory, shift mood, and facilitate physical movement and language. If often provides an opportunity for social interaction and can be a useful tool to reduce agitation and anxiety. While this information is not new, the use of music to calm, engage, and entertain those with memory loss is such a simple solution that it tends to get overlooked. We forget the power that is available to us in so many forms and, for those who aren’t too shy to belt one out, it is as easy as opening our mouths, or even humming a little tune.

The benefits of music are documented in medical studies. One study, led by Dr. Ardash Kumar at the University of Miami’s School of Medicine noted that participants in a month long program of music for 30 minutes a day, five times a week had increased levels of melatonin, a hormone associated with mood regulation, lower aggression, reduced depression, and enhanced sleep.

We have recently added iHome music players in each Cottage and are launching a program where each resident has their own iPod loaded with the music they love and can be listened to by them as frequently as they like. We would encourage you to consider purchasing an iPod and headphones for your loved one, perhaps as a Christmas gift. If you are interested in more information about this program for your loved one, please contact Janelle Johnson at 651-501-6513 x 3. Music is a powerful tool. Put it to work in the life of your loved one.

Submitted by: Janelle Johnson, Memory Care Specialist