Specialized Memory Care environments involves a wealth of supportive and customized physical and social programs, including music therapies. 

Music can evoke various emotions and/or memories of a different time. Using music as a therapeutic stimulation can help improve the physical, emotional, and mental state of a person living with Memory Loss. 

What Is Music Therapy?

The Canadian Association of Music Therapists defines music therapy as “a discipline in which Certified Music Therapists (MTAs) use music purposefully within therapeutic relationships to support development, health, and well-being”.

A structured music therapy session in a Memory Care environment is similar to the method used by millions of people every day in the comfort of their home to unwind or relieve stress. As a therapeutic tool, music can be played in conjunction with other forms of therapy, depending on the intended audience. 

How Does Music Therapy Help With Memory Loss?

Music therapy is referred to as a non-pharmaceutical method of treatment for those living with Memory Loss. It can be used to reduce agitation or aggression demonstrated by a person with living with dementia. It can also be used to evoke happy emotions in someone who may feel depressed, isolated, or lonely. 

How Does Music Affect the Brain?

To understand how music therapy for people living with Memory Loss is used, it is important to recognize how music affects the brain. 

The limbic system of the brain processes emotional and behavioural responses. Hearing music increases blood flow to this and other regions of the brain that control emotions. Our brain releases neurotransmitters, which are chemical messages, as a response to the sound of music. The dopamine neurotransmitter that is released is known for giving us our “feel good” emotions. 

When music is played for people living with Memory Loss, feelings of calm and relaxation can be experienced, especially if the music stimulates a happy “memory”.  People living with Memory Loss may similarly experience feelings of distress with music that generates negative emotions.

Case Studies 

A recent study titled The Effects of Music Therapy on Patients with Dementia looked into the influence music therapy has on individuals living with Memory Loss. This study found this form of therapy helped to reduce common occurrences of depression and anxiety while improving verbal communication in those living with Memory Loss. 

Another study published in May 2020 titled The Music Therapy in the Treatment of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis focused on music as a treatment alternative for different stages of dementia. The report states that music therapy improved participants’ cognitive function and quality of life. 

Benefits of Music Therapy for People Living with Memory Loss

Music therapy is a common therapeutic tool used by Memory Care environments, hospitals, and various therapists. Below are some of the many benefits of this therapeutic approach. 

Improves Overall Physical and Mental Well-Being

Music has long been proven to stimulate good physical and mental health. As Memory Loss affects a person’s cognitive function and motor skills, music therapy can be used as a motivation for the brain to focus and release hormones to improve immune function. 

Helps to Express Feelings and Ideas, Verbally and Non-Verbally

Music is the universal language of love, acceptance, and community spirit. People living with Memory Loss can easily lose their ability to express ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Using music therapy as a tool, body language such as clapping, head nodding, and stomping can give those living with Memory Loss a voice. 

Improves Mood Throughout The Day

The release of dopamine is increased with the use of music. This feel-good hormone provides a happy emotion to stabilize one’s mood which in turn reduces anxiety and depression. Rhythmically focused sounds as with classical music can lower frustration while promoting relaxation. 

Leads to Better Sleep Patterns at Night

The autonomic nervous system can be stimulated with use of familiar and calming music to help reduce blood pressure, heart rhythm, and breathing rate to a comfortable level for sleeping. A study published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies discovered participants exposed to soothing music before bedtime were better rested and had a longer REM sleep than participants who did not listen to music. 

Improves Recall of Memories

Listening to a particular song or genre of music can stimulate memories of the past, both good and bad for everyone. Using music therapy to promote the use of the brain to recall times, events, and faces can connect a person living with Memory Loss with a precious memory. Music can help link a face with a name, emotion, or past event. 

Helps with Managing Stress

The Psychology Department research team at McGill University reviewed 400 published reports in the category of neurochemistry of music. They discovered not only did music work as an alternative to prescribed medication to lower levels of stress hormone cortisol, but it also improved the immune system by increasing levels of natural antibodies and killer cells. 

Encourages Physical Exercise, Dance, or Movement

As music encourages movement, using it as a therapy tool to stimulate a healthy way of life can help improve mobilization, strength, balance, and coordination. Regular movement has been shown to increase motor function while reducing the risk of falls, which is beneficial to those living with Memory Loss.  

Book a Short-Term and Long-Term Stay at Memory & Company

For comprehensive Respite Care and short-term and long-term Memory Care, contact Memory & Company. We are a team of medical professionals that provide compassionate and supportive care for those living with Memory Loss.  

Our Markham and Oakville locations are designed to offer accommodations, daily programs, and support for the person living with Memory Loss and their care partners. We are available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week to answer your questions.

As a dedicated environment for support and care to anyone living with a form of Memory Loss, we offer a broad music therapy program. We use research and clinically proven evidence to create a therapeutic, stimulating, and calming atmosphere for our Members to enjoy. 

Call us at (905) 888-8808, email info@memoryandcompany.com, or fill out our contact form to learn more.