New research shows that in Alzheimer’s patients, long term memory can be regained through listening to music!
Listening to music that is familiar to the dementia patient from their past reawakens long term memories about who the person is, who their family is, and the context of their life.
This has huge implications in quality of living, in social interactions and even in activity levels.
If you play music that holds special meaning to a patient experiencing memory loss, you are very likely to help them recover context and depth and recognition in the form of long term memory recall while the music is being played.
Playing music that is personally relevant to a patient has been shown to:
increase communication skills
increase long term recall
increase activity level and energy level
increase social function and engagement
decrease high blood pressure
even reduce pain levels and
increase patient compliance with physical and rehabilitative therapy, to the point where patients actually recover increased range of motion in their joints!
Today, it’s a good idea to incorporate a list of your favorite music into your advanced directive…
…because the music that people respond to the most, and the music that tends to increase quality of life, is music that they enjoy, resonate with, and have personal associations and memories to.
If you have an aging loved one, it’s especially important for you to ask them, or use family members to help you identify, what music they loved in their youth and throughout adulthood.
Getting a playlist together for any elderly loved ones is now a crucial part of elder care… improving the quality of daily living and keeping long term memories intact.
This is particularly important in a nursing home or rehab situation, where over 90% of a patient’s time is spend inactive and non-interactive.
In fact, sadly, half of residents of nursing homes in the United States never get a sing visitor… ever.
This decrease in meaningful interaction accelerates decline.
Music is a very vivid, beautiful, expressive, natural, holistic, non-invasive way to bring life and meaning (and wonderful long term memories!) back into an elder’s life.
To help today:
1. Add a song list to your advanced directive. Help create a song list for the elders in your family as well.
Dan Cohen, director of the important film Alive Inside, offers these helpful suggestions on how to create a playlist for a loved one with dementia that can not relate this information to you directly.
Ask family members:
- “Did they play an instrument when they were young?”
- “Did they sing in a choir or a chorus?”
- “Did they like Broadway musicals or religious music?”
- “Did they have any records or recordings of old music found in their home?”
- “Did they play a special song at their wedding or high school dance?”
2. It’s also a good idea to consider using music at *any age* to soothe nerves… for example:
- before athletic competitions
- before school exams
- before and even during surgical procedures, medical or dental interventions
- or even to energize you to do a task you are dreading, such as before public speaking or while making a meal after a long hard day.
Know that if your teen is reaching for headphones over and over again, music is an invaluable tool for self-soothing and decreasing anxiety and depression rates. So instead of taking the headphone away, encourage your teen to play the music out loud and get involved and connecting with your child through music, instead of resisting it!
3. Consider donating your old iPods to nursing homes or woman and children’s shelters…
…absolutely don’t throw them away!
There are donation drives for local nursing homes ongoing throughout the world thanks to the amazing efforts of the Music & Memory initiative.
To make a donation, hop over to Alive Inside’s website here.
(Watch the trailer of Dan Cohen’s film Alive Inside by clicking the video below, or this link to watch it on YouTube.)
4. What are other holistic, brain protective, dementia reducing things you can do?
Stay well hydrated to maintain alert cognition
Eat organically (studies show that pesticides increase Alzheimers Risk)
Avoid gluten (studies suggest that gluten is neurotoxic)
Drink coffee (clinically shown to reduce dementia rates)
Drink green tea or take green tea extract (medically shown to boost memory!)
Vit D supplements (studies show low Vit D levels are linked to increased dementia rates)
Resveratrol supplements (medically shown to stop the progression of Alzheimers plaques!)
Treat any anxiety (studies show treating anxiety lengthens lifespan!)
Meditate regularly (medically proven to be brain protective!)
Stay active (daily walking is the key!)
By protecting your brain’s vasculature, decreasing inflammation, preventing stroke and treating high blood pressure, grounding your body might single handedly be the best thing you can do to preserve brain function over a lifetime.
Grounding not only decreases blood inflammatory markers, decreases high blood pressure and dilates blood vessels so that blood reaches end organs (such as the brain!) more effectively, it also flows more smoothly. Blood viscosity is decreased, red blood cells stick together less, and the function of the heart (in particular, heart rate variability) is improved.
Show to preserve brain volume as we age and decrease dementia rates, taking an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement that is animal based (like Krill Oil) is medically proven to support brain function.
Read my article here for more details about using fish oil to prevent dementia, and links to my favorite brands.
High quality sleep is medically proven to protect brain function
and poor quality sleep is associated with an increased risk of dementia. Melatonin naturally declines with age, so supplementing with melatonin if sleep depth and quality declines with age is an important way to protect and preserve brain function.
Read my article here for more ways to ensure deep, restorative, brain healthy sleep!
To a long and dementia free future, straight from the medical literature to you!