Memory And The Power Of Music

Health, Memory Care

Music has long bolstered the spirits of humanity, and touches every culture, dating back thousands of years, signifying the affinity humans have with melody and harmony.

We all have anecdotal stories of how music impacts our lives, especially memory. Think of when a song plays in a car radio and it can instantly transport you back in time. Now, the scientific community is establishing a tie-in between music and memory with neuroscience research, and the results bring positive news to the senior living population.

According to the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, researchers have discovered long-term musical memory in Alzheimer patients often remains intact and functional for a lengthy period of time. The research indicates music can often reactivate memories, emotions and impressions. Perhaps most striking is that the research indicated patients are able to sing lyrics of songs even if the patient has lost their ability to speak.

Radford Green at Sedgebrook has recognized the power of music for memory care residents with a new interactive program. Songs By Heart offers professionally trained vocalists and musicians to lead interactive sing-along programs three days a week to engage with residents.
Residents not only tap their toes and snap their fingers to the beat of the music, but many have found their voices again and sing – an activity that for some was lost years ago due to dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of American also reports how music can shift mood, manage stressed-induced agitation, stimulate positive interaction, coordinate motor movements and facilitate cognitive function for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. But there is also a human connection that should be noted when it comes to music and memory care.

Radford Green staff report how they have seen residents hold hands or make eye contact with performers, and it is that interaction along with the music that touches on the social, intellectual, emotional and spiritual aspects of wellness and brings about a positive response from residents.

Making a musical commitment to the residents is so important that Radford Green administrators have placed pianos on all levels of care for impromptu sing-alongs between staff and residents. When a song can be seen and felt in the hearts of memory care residents, it’s a win-win situation for both residents and their families.