Dementia can put a strain on both patients and caregivers. However, music can help by opening doors that had not been opened for years. The nonprofit organization, Music & Memory, puts music into the hands of people with dementia to help them to interact with their world. According to the Brain-Music section of the website for Music & Memory, patients were changed by the music. This change included calming wild brain activity and helping them connect to others as well as concentrate on the present moment.
Brianna LePage learned how dementia patients are able to connect with others after she worked with a 94-year-old woman at the Kings Harbor Multicare Center. LePage said that the woman was alone and isolated. However, LePage says she became drawn to the woman. She also said she tried bringing the woman out of her isolation by using the piano and guitar. When that failed, LePage continued to use other instruments to help the woman and after a while the woman began to recognize her from the other side of the room. The woman functioned the same as she did when she entered the facility. LePage said that the woman began calling her Jenny, the woman’s friend, and sang with LePage while LePage played music.
Aside from listening to music through the Music & Memory program, a local chamber orchestra is giving those with dementia a similar experience through playing live music. The Manchester Camerata will be playing for people diagnosed with this ailment for two weeks over the span of 10 weeks at the Station House Care Home. The orchestra wants to work with music therapists to increase interactions and communications through music.
The concerts are different from a typical performance because the players do not lead the show. The company changed the performance so that participants could play the instruments while the musicians play beside them. Participants can handle as well as play the instruments during each session. Another part of a typical performance that has changed is the way musicians introduce songs. The musicians do not introduce any of the songs unless it comes up naturally during the session or if a participant asks. The session is part of the company Music in Mind and began in 2012 as part of a research project. Each week is different because it will focus on what music as well as instruments participants want.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association of America, certain types of music can help people with dementia complete daily activities. Music that is stimulative has quick tempos and instruments from the percussion section. Caregivers can play stimulative music to get tired loved ones to eat during mealtime and before bath time to get them to move from one room to another. Sedative music has slow tempos and not many percussion instruments. This type of music can include lullabies and ballads. It can calm them down for any change in routine such as getting ready to go to bed.
People with dementia can enjoy music with the Music & Memory program. This program allows dementia patients the ability to listen to music with music players that volunteers donate to the nonprofit organization. Music & Memory can help patients who have dementia make contact with their world. Another company, Music in Mind, teamed up with the Manchester Camerata to help people with dementia communicate better. A person with this illness can have their behavior changed through music by stimulating positive comments or controlling motor movements.
By Jordan Bonte