Reinvigorating Alzheimer's Patients with Music
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Music can be powerful and listening to it can have a profound effect on the human brain. Studies have shown music may reduce agitation and improve behavioral issues that are common in the middle-stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Music evokes emotion, and emotions can bring back memory and the feeling of life even in the late-stages of the disease. A person may be able to tap a beat or sing lyrics to a song providing a way to connect, even after verbal communication has become difficult.
Most importantly, it’s not just about the patients and/or residents, but the work environment experienced by your staff. A more pleasurable work environment makes for an engaged workforce. Here are some benefits that can be experienced by both parties:
- Happier, more social residents
- Stronger relationships between staff, resident s and family
- Less stressful environment
- Enhanced employee engagement
- Less time spent dealing behavior management issues
Use these tips when selecting music for a person with Alzheimer’s :
- Identify music that’s familiar and enjoyable to the person – If possible, let the person choose the music
- Choose a source of music that isn't interrupted by commercials, which can cause confusion
- Use music to create the mood you want – Think a tranquil piece of music for a calm environment, and a faster-paced song from someone's childhood to boost spirits and evoke happy memories
- Encourage movement – Clapping, patting, dancing, etc.
- Avoid sensory overload – Eliminate competing noises by shutting windows and doors and by turning off the television
There is growing evidence that a personalized music program gives professionals one more tool in their effort to reduce reliance on anti-psychotic medications. I recommend watching a recent Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary, Alive Inside. This film explores the story of a social worker and a nursing home resident. The resident is given an iPod loaded with popular music from his younger days, including some of his favorite songs. Henry, who once sat hunched over and barely spoke, lights up with life and expression as he sings along and bobs his head to the music. The normally unresponsive man is now animated and wants to converse about the music he just listened to.
For more tips on enhancing the environment for your employees and the individuals you serve, check out our Business Insights Blog.
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