Senior Living Care Blog

Music Therapy For Alzheimer's

Posted by Joe Gilmore on May 7, 2019 11:00:00 AM

Music is not just a form of entertainment, music therapy is an option that can and should be used for dementia patients. One study that examined the neurological benefits of music found that music therapy can reinforce social cohesion, family ties, self-esteem, and a better quality of life.


There is also some evidence that music therapy can be provided to a specific group of people to help with their problems. For example, Alzheimer’s patients can gain cognitive improvements through the use of music therapy.


Alzheimer’s Disease is a global issue with increasing prevalence. Despite the fact that there is no known cure, there are some medication and therapy options for people that can help them deal with dementia-related symptoms.



Benefits of Music Therapy

A man playing the piano. Research is starting to show that music therapy is beneficial for alzheimers.

Music therapy is an interesting and relatively untapped method of treatment for Alzheimer’s that can have a number of potential benefits when it comes to neuropsychological, cognitive, and social functioning in the field of dementia. Along with the number of potentials that this type of therapy may hold, it is also a low-cost option. Many researchers have found evidence that music therapy is beneficial and can improve cognition and can be effective in reducing symptoms associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.


Music therapy is considered a non-pharmacological intervention that has the potential to reduce cognitive decline, improve neuropsychiatric symptoms, and enhance the quality of life in dementia patients.


Different Techniques

There are a number of different ways to implement music therapy into someone’s routine. Each technique has been studied

  • Listening To Music — The clearest and obvious form of music therapy is just to listen to music. There is evidence that music can be more effective when the patient knows and is familiar with the songs or artist being played. One study found that patients demonstrated increased stabilization or improvement in self-consciousness during the mild or moderate stage of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Singing — Singing is the most widely used form of music therapy among dementia patients. Karaoke is a commonly used method and results have shown that neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease improved after six months of this form of therapy.
  • Music-Based Intervention — “This technique always calls for the music therapist using music elements like rhythm or melody as accompaniments to help patients remember verbal contents.” One study that looked at music interventions found that music could enhance the brain’s ability to process verbal information. They also found that sung texts were better remembered than spoken text.
  • Background Music — Using background music for dementia patients has been rarely studied but results indicated that music in the background could enhance autobiographical memory and reduce anxiety in patients.
  • Music With Activities — More research is being done to look into the effects of using music therapy in combination with other activities such as singing, dancing, playing instruments, and more. Results from a six-week study found that music with other activities could improve a patient’s cognitive status and alleviate some symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.


It should be noted that music therapy is a supplemental form of treatment and that patients should not discontinue medications during music therapy. Combining music therapy with other forms of expression such as dance, art, physical exercise, and more can be “excitingly helpful”. It is also recommended that music therapy should be started at the early stage of dementia or even before dementia begins.


If you aren’t sure what type of music should be played or at what volume, it may take a period of trial and error to figure out what works best. One way to find popular songs that seniors may like is to search by year for popular songs from different stages of their lives. It is recommended that you create a playlist that is commercial-free as advertisements can cause confusion.



Alzheimer’s DiseaseAn older man sitting at lunch. Music therapy, even during lunch time, is beneficial for seniors with Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, a debilitating and progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects cognitive functioning, mental health, memory, and more. With the increasing age population in the country, the number of Alzheimer’s and dementia patient is expected to skyrocket over the next couple of decades. In fact, the number of Alzheimer’s patients is projected to triple over the next thirty years.


Considering the growing population and the lack of pharmaceutical treatment, researchers need to look more into alternative forms of treatment such as music to see how it can be implemented into therapy sessions to help those struggling with dementia and Alzheimer’s.


Music treatment can be implemented for dementia patients in the early, middle, and late stages of the disease.


When Alzheimer’s gets severe enough, it can cause patients to lose their daily living abilities. As more patients become affected by Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, more will lose their ability to live independently and require the care of a live-in caretaker or a senior living facility.



Next Steps

Music therapy holds some untapped potential when it comes to treatment for Alzheimer’s and dementia-related diseases. Evidence shows that using music therapy, whether it is simply listening, singing, or something else, can have a number of positive health effects for dementia patients. While there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, music therapy can provide some benefits by increasing cognitive abilities and alleviating some symptoms of the diseases. Alzheimer’s is already a big problem in the United States and it is only getting bigger. As the years pass, many seniors will have to end their independent living situation and hire a caretaker or find an assisted living facility.


Landmark Senior Living is one facility that can help. At Landmark, we offer our residents access to the quality care that they deserve. We provide memory and medical care as well as access to social events and activities to make sure that our residents stay happy and healthy during their time at Landmark. If you are interested in learning more about what Landmark has to offer you or your loved one, please visit our website today and schedule a complimentary walkthrough of one of our assisted living facilities.



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Topics: Alzheimers

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