Music therapy is widely used to help evoke lost memories. As a professional singer, over the years I have seen the effect that music has on everyday people, but this effect is more profound when I perform to people suffering memory loss through Dementia. I see people dance, sing laugh and recall all the lyrics to songs that they may not have heard for years. I see people moved to tears as they connect with deep lost memories as the songs. Of all the things I do, seeing the changes that occur due to music in one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.
Emotion and Memories...
Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory… it brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.” By pairing music with every day activities, patients can develop a rhythm that helps them to the recall the memory of that activity, improving cognitive ability over time.
Our brains are hard wired to appreciate music...
Musical aptitude and music appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in patients with Alzheimer’s.” Because these two abilities remain long after other abilities have passed, music is an excellent way to reach beyond the disease and reach the person.
Dancing and sharing emotion..
In the later stages of dementia, patients often lose the ability to share emotions with caregivers. Through music, as long as they are ambulatory, they can often dance. Dancing can lead to hugs, kisses and touching which brings security and memories.
Engage the brain...
Music and singing sessions engage more than just the brain area related to singing. As singing activates the left side of the brain, listening to music sparks activity in the right and visual areas of the brain. With so much of the brain being stimulated, the patients were exercising more mind power than usual.
When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function and coordinate motor movements.” This is because music requires little to no mental processing, so singing music does not require the cognitive function that is not present in most dementia patients.
Scientific studies by Dr Masuru Emoto have found that water reacts to music, creating beautiful shapes and crystals when stimulated by music and positive words and thoughts. As our bodies are 90% water it makes perfect sense to use this natural connection with water as a way to reconnect us to our lost memories and emotions.
Music as therapy