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Benefits of Music in Aged Care

January 8, 2016 0 Comments

Music has been found to stimulate deep portions of the brain, having an impact on those with Dementia – a chronic and increasing condition in the aged care setting. During MRI scans, when music was played the brain fired up – lighting up both hemispheres of the brain like a Christmas tree! While Dementia affects certain parts of the brain… music stimulates even greater parts of the brain, and the results have been positive.

Music Therapy in Aged Care Homes

Music can be a benefit in Aged Care

There have been cases – some which have gained a lot of attention through social media platforms – where people with Dementia who no longer responded to their environment have responded to music. They moved about and communicated – sometimes danced, sang, and laughed. While the music had stimulated the brain, it had possibly also awoken memories and the feelings associated to those memories. It has also been discovered that memory for song lyrics often remains long after other memory and verbal abilities have deteriorated for people with Dementia.

Dementia isn’t the only condition that music is helping to alleviate; loneliness, boredom, and depression are among others. Music is also being used to bring communities together. After all, most events and gatherings (social, religious,  etc.) involve people singing, chanting, listening to and even moving to music. It is a common external stimulus that attendees can respond to – and commonalities are what bring people together. Intellectuals tend to spend their time with other intellectuals, ‘sporty’ people attract other sport loving people, political parties are filled with like-minded individuals, and religious persuasions attract a certain value in a person that reflects the rest of the followers. Music within an Aged Care Facility could just be the right stimulus for creating a commonality among the residents.

Let’s focus a little more on the production of chemicals within the brain that are associated to the creation of or listening to music. Music actually triggers Endorphins. These provide a degree of pain relief. Dopamine is also produced creating feelings of happiness, success and optimism. Oxytocin is released – aka the ‘love hormone’ which helps build relationships.

Of course, when talking about using music as a type of therapeutic tool, it is important to choose the correct music… really when you think about it: music appreciation is very personal, and everyone has their own memory associated to a piece of music. A piece of music you love might remind you of family get-togethers and much laughter, but that same tune may remind another person of a family funeral which brings about sadness and a sense of loss.

Here are some tips for discovering what music would suit an individual:

  • Consider their age and what hits were about when they were younger
  • Consider their nationality and if that has a relation to the type of music they prefer
  • Ask their family and friends what music they have in their ‘album’ or dvd collection to get an idea of the genre they prefer (there is a big difference between Gene Pitney’s “The Man Who Shot Libert Valance” and Charles Aznavour’s “The Old Fashioned Way”)
  • Do a bit of digging to find out if they were they fond of ballroom dancing and therefore like dance hall music, or were they a real mover and shaker in their time and preferred some rock and roll

While sharing the appreciation of music, this is also your opportunity to get to know the other person more.

Filed in: Therapies

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