These days, music is more available to us, in more formats, than ever before. Those with smartphones or tablets have access to hundreds of thousands, if not tens of millions, of songs, right at the swipe of a finger. Family caregivers can utilize this technology as a valuable tool to provide music for seniors that can speak to them in ways that mere words simply cannot. This widely shared video from the Alive Inside documentary demonstrates just how incredibly powerful music can be for older adults, particularly those with limited abilities or dementia.
With the wide variety of music available from sources like iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, and countless others, we now can discover music, in many cases at no charge, in an array of genres within moments. Caregivers can ask clients or senior loved ones what types of music they’ve enjoyed throughout their lifetime, and tune in to that genre for them. Musical preference could stem from a certain era of time, like Big Band music, or a religious connection, such as gospel or hymns, for instance. It could also tie back to the person’s ethnic background – such as salsa or reggae. Others might prefer timeless favorites like jazz, classical, blues, country, folk, etc. Once you determine the senior’s preference, giving them access to this type of music can have profound benefits.
Did you ever hear a song on the radio and feel immediately transformed to another time in your life? Research has shown that music is deeply rooted in personal memories. Our brains are actually hard-wired to connect music to long-term memory. This is true even for individuals with moderate to severe dementia. Music & Memory is a non-profit company that delivers customized music for the elderly through digital technology, and as a result, greatly improving quality of life. The staff train both professional caregivers and family members in creating and utilizing playlists to enable those with dementia and other challenges to reconnect with the world around them through memories triggered by the music.
Other studies have shown that listening to familiar, well-loved music helps to reduce anxiety levels and improve focus on the present moment. This can help older adults with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia to better connect with those around them.
At AAging Better In-Home Care, our goal is always to improve the quality of life for older adults with our professional home care services, and providing music for seniors is just one of the many ways we’re reaching this goal. Contact us at toll free 866-464-2344 (Idaho) or toll free 844-814-8080 (Washington state) to learn more.