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Music Therapy Shown to Have Powerful Healing Effects in Memory Care

Freedom Home Care has noticed that over the past few years, amazing strides have been made in memory care. As the body ages, so does the mind. 

Alzheimer’s is an all too familiar disease that affects the memory.  There are approximately 5.2 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s. Of that number, about five million are adults aged 65 or older.

Memory care can be provided in an assisted living setting or through a nursing home. As Alzheimer’s progresses, those who suffer from it usually require more assistance.  Patients may also receive services like 24 hour supervised care in a private room, housekeeping and laundry duties, exercise, physical therapy, and structured activities.

One of the most effective treatments offered today in memory care is music therapy.  More than just a form of socialization and entertainment, music can influence the psyche and aid in memory retrieval. Many times in the late stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, a patient may no longer be able to respond to their environment, control movements, sit or even smile. But, according to Certified Music Therapist Concetta Tomaino, DA, playing a song repeatedly while singing not only elicits an immediate noticeable response from her patients, but has also found them singing and talking again within months of therapy.

The secret that researchers have found is the connection between the auditory cortex of the brain and it’s the limbic system. It’s here that emotions are processed, which allows persons with Alzheimer’s to be able to associate a song with someone or some place of personal significance.

Tomaino is also the director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function at Beth Abraham Family of Health Services in New York and says because of this connection, music usually elicits a strong response in patients. “This biological link makes it possible for sound to be processed almost immediately by the areas of the brain that are associated with long-term memory and the emotions,” says Tomaino.

Even in the late stages of the disease, parts of the brain like the hippo-campus and limbic systems are still in tact. This is where long-term memory and emotional impact are retained.

Music care helps to trigger those long-term memories, and even though someone hasn’t spoken in years, they will eventually begin to recognize songs and in some cases, sing along. Clinical studies show that people with Dementia or Alzheimer’s have improved speech, memory, and movement after repeatedly playing and listening to music.

It’s also been shown that exposure to familiar music has increased mobility, socialization, and cognitive ability, while lessening agitation and problem behaviors. Similar programs have reported that through music therapy, relationships with assisted care staff and family have deepened, dependence on medication is reduced, patients eat and sleep better, and they are happier and more social.

When applied properly in a supervised setting, Freedom Home Care believes that music therapy can allow patients and their family to reconnect again in some very remarkable ways.

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