How Music Can Boost Your Loved One’s Brain Activity
BY TRACY LAYDEN
Music is fun to listen to – and our brains love it. For your loved one, music can be key to unlocking hard-to-reach parts of their brain to reveal hidden memories and emotional connections.
- Bring back old memories with familiar music. Our brains attach vivid memories to our favorite songs – where and when we first heard it, what we were doing that day, and more. Play old favorites from your loved one’s younger years and see if it triggers those far-away emotions and memories.
- Create new memories with regular music. Try helping your loved one remember daily routines by regularly playing the same songs during those activities. The trick is to get their brain to associate each song with particular movements or tasks.
- Lessen symptoms of loneliness. Listening to music can make your loved one feel more connected to others, particularly when you listen and sing along with them. You may find that they prefer to have music in the background as white noise.
- Help the brain produce feel-good chemicals. For those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, listening to music can promote the production of brain chemicals that stimulate positive feelings. These brain chemicals can positively increase your aging loved one’s mood and behavior. Your loved one will look healthier and happier, just from the sound of music.
How Music Can Affect Behavior
Listening to music has more benefits for your aging loved one than just boosting brain activity. There are physical and behavioral benefits too.
- Reduce agitation and behavioral issues. In later stages of dementia, agitation is common. Music has been found to decrease problem behaviors to sooth and comfort your loved one.
- Activate parts of the brain that make them want to sing and dance. Play songs that encourage them to sing along. Singing involves using the left side of the brain, and listening uses the right side. Both singing and listening to music helps the whole brain become more activated and stimulated.
- Encourage exercise. Most of us prefer to listen to music to exercise, and your loved one is likely the same way. Not only does it make required exercises more pleasant, it can encourage spontaneous movement and dancing to add to their daily exercise routine.
While music cannot heal Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be an important tool to help your loved one manage their symptoms. Try adding some music to their life – you never know what can happen thanks to the power of song!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.
More Stories from Our Caregiving Community
BY SALLY QUINN Architect of Change Sally Quinn is a veteran Washington Post reporter and the wife of the late Ben Bradlee, the paper’s legendary former executive editor. In her new book Finding Magic, Sally bravely opens her heart and shares what it was like to...read more
BY DANIEL C. POTTS, MD, FAAN “The battle of being mortal is the battle to maintain the integrity of one’s life—to avoid becoming so diminished or dissipated or subjugated that who you are becomes disconnected from who you were or who you want to be.” ― Atul...read more
BY DEBORAH SHOUSE When my father-in-law Frank was living with dementia, my husband Ron and I often struggled with how to approach Father’s Day. Even though Frank didn’t know what day it was, it was important to us to celebrate and honor Frank as a father. Here are...read more