Yesterday, I was invited to speak at our local Alzheimer's conference here in Chattanooga. I work part time at Elmcroft Assisted Living as an Activity Director and I see first hand how this dreaded disease can affect a person. Alzheimers affects each person differently. No two people think and act the same. But one thing is for sure--loss of memory function is at the top of the list. At this symposium, I spoke of ways that music can be used to help the caregiver bring a better quality of life to their daily routine as they care for their loved ones who have Alzheimer's. First, I want to talk about how music can affect all of us--and especially older adults.
- Music is one activity that affects the whole brain.
- Music heals. They are finding that it can be used effectively in pain management.
- Music therapy is being used in hospitals during childbirth to complement the use of anesthesia during surgery.
- Music serves as a distractor. We know that, when caring for people with Alzheimer's, at times we have to use something to distract them from a certain behavior.
- Music causes the body to release endorphins to counteract pain.
- Slow music relaxes a person by slowing their breathing and heartbeat.
- Music reduces blood pressure. Playing classical, Celtic and raga music every day can significantly reduce high blood pressure.
- Music is good for the heart. It is the tempo of the music that helps. Music's steady beat is what is good for the heart.
- Music speeds post-stroke recovery. Verbal memory and attention span can improve. I know a person who has had a stroke and now she cannot say her words to formulate a thought. But when we sing, she actually says the words and can even sing! It is amazing to see her sing along with everyone else.
- Music enhances intelligence, learning and IQ. We all have seen this in teaching music to children. It also happens throughout our lifetime.
- Music improves memory performance. Mozart's music and baroque music with a 60 beat per minute pattern activates the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information.
Well, this is my first post of talking about how music can help a person improve their memory even if they have Alzheimer's. In my next post, I will talk about how music can stimulate and help a person with Alzheimer's remember their past and be able to reminisce, which is very good for the soul. If you can think of more ways music can help a person with Alzheimer's, please share with us here.