Music is human. It is ingrained in every person whether they’ve spent years studying music or have just enjoyed it passively as a consumer. Our brains are wired to respond to music and, because of this wiring, we have learned to use music to communicate, entertain ourselves, and, more recently, to heal. Music therapy is used widely in the senior care world because of its benefits and it is gaining in popularity more every day as we continue to study its effects on the brain.

A senior woman with headphones listening to music as a part of her music therapy.
Close-up shot of a woman listening to music.

The Senior Brain and Music Therapy

When music is used as a tool for therapy with dementia patients, the results have been positive. Music has been shown to calm moods, trigger memories, and to help dementia patients be in the present moment. Research has shown that music memory is stored in a part of the brain that is mostly unaffected by dementia. Therefore, a senior with dementia can often recall these memories. A senior who was a musician may remember how to read music or play an instrument even when they cannot recall names or other memories. Non-musicians may be able to recall certain memories attached to songs from their youth.

Finding the Music

When searching for music that may help, try to find songs that are from the era of the senior’s youth; especially the adolescent years when music plays a role in shaping our lives. If you know the senior well and you know what music made them happy throughout their life, start music therapy there. Songs that were an integral part of the senior’s family are usually effective. Perhaps a family lullaby or a song that was sung frequently while they raised their children.

How to Help

If you are the caretaker of a loved one with dementia, you can help by making music therapy an everyday part of life. Play music that is relaxing during mealtimes and form routines around the music. Sing songs that were commonplace in the home for your senior. Your voice may be more powerful than a recording and it can help you bond during those moments.

If you are looking for in-home care for your loved one, Family Tree In-Home Care can help. Contact us today to see how we can help your senior remain at home.