Mary Sue on the Role of Music in Caring for Older Adults with Dementia

“Music brings us a rather unique pleasure … music lights up more parts of the brain than any other human activity … listening to music reduces cortisol which is a stress hormone and it increases dopamine which is happiness …”

Eldercare Illuminates (by Torchlight Podcasts) supports working caregivers and their families in the US. In this podcast, Host Lenore Tracy and Musician Mary Sue talk about the benefits and challenges of using music in the process of caring for those with dementia and in enhancing their lives. Mary Sue’s passion for singing with elders started with her father-in-law, who was diagnosed with dementia and could still remember songs.

Music and its Effects on Someone Suffering from Dementia – [3 min 55 sec onwards]

“[Repetition of songs] helps [those suffering from dementia] feel competent and they know it and if they heard it three minutes ago … that’s why they’re thinking of it now, because they can hold that thought”

Mary is fascinated by the amount of research being done on the effects of music on the human brain. She talks about her group meetings with people suffering from dementia, and how particular kinds of music can get them to respond. From her observations, she tells, these responses vary from smiles, nods or an attentive look. She notes that songs that are familiar and individualized work better with those suffering from dementia, and the role of technology in making access to a variety of music easy. She says that repetition of songs seldom leads to boredom, instead, it provides them a certain sense of comfort. Instances where some patients could even retain the ability to make music, are discussed further.

Role of Music in the Journey of a Caregiver – [22 min 22 sec onwards]

“It’s challenging when … someone you love that you had a certain relationship [with], you don’t have that same relationship anymore … you want to share some intimacy with them … music can do that”

Mary shares ideas on how caregivers can use music with loved ones suffering from dementia at home. She emphasizes on the benefits of music in the caregiving journey. She says one can find joy by simply breaking into a song with the care-receiver. Dancing, singing, or sharing a song that is special to both can help recreate moments of bonding. Music can also be used for relaxation. She insists caregivers should remember to listen to music and treat it as a moment to pause, refresh and renew yourself.

It’s not just emotional – it’s practical!

“Music can help you grease the wheels … it’s not a cure-all … music can be used as cues … [like] if there is always a song that you use to cue that it’s shower time”

Mary believes that music can bring comfort to both the caregiver and the care-receiver. It can help bring small changes to the way people with dementia and those around them live.

If you can identify with this story, please share it with others who can benefit from it. The feeling of understanding, not being alone and access to support is what keeps one going.

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Source: Torchlight Podcasts

This YouTube video has been curated by Caregiver Saathi. All Rights are Reserved with the original publisher and creators.

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