CAREtrends: Music Programs in Our Memory Care

Ukulele Lulus shaking, moving, and delighting Villa Alamar residents

Among the many sensory-stimulating strategies we use to keep our Villa Alamar residents active and engaged, our music programs are of particular importance to our community.

Music can evoke memories and emotions from past experiences through associative memory. When we hear a familiar song, it can trigger memories and emotions associated with the time and place where we first heard the song. When we listen to music that elicits a strong emotional response, it can increase the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can enhance memory consolidation and retrieval.

Through rhythmic entrainment, which is the synchronization of movement to a beat, music can help to consolidate memory and enhance recall. Music can also improve attentional focus. When we listen to music, it can help us to focus our attention and block out distractions, which can improve our ability to encode and retrieve information.

Singing or dancing, Carole McNeil always strikes the right chord!

In addition to benefits in memory, music can have a powerful impact on overall brain health including:

Reducing stress and anxiety:
Listening to music has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels, which can have a positive impact on overall mental health.

Boosting mood:
Music can also boost mood by increasing the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

Improving sleep:
Listening to relaxing music before bed can improve the quality of sleep and reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

Helping with pain management:
Music can be used as a form of pain management, particularly for chronic pain. It has been shown to reduce the perception of pain and improve mood in patients with chronic pain conditions.

Enhancing social bonding:
Playing music with others can enhance social bonding and create a sense of community, which can have positive effects on mental health.

Aiding in rehabilitation:
Music therapy has been used to aid in the rehabilitation of patients recovering from stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological disorders. It has been shown to improve motor function and cognitive abilities.

Music has been found to have additional therapeutic benefits for people living with dementia. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2018 found that music therapy can improve cognitive function, mood, and quality of life in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

At Villa Alamar, these are some of the reasons that motivate our daily music programs:

The Ukelele Lulus make every one feel like they are a member of the group. There is non-stop laughter when they visit us!

  1. Improving mood and emotional well-being: Our musical programs help to stimulate positive emotions and memories, which can improve mood and emotional well-being for our residents. They also help to reduce agitation and anxiety, which are symptoms often associated with various forms of neurological disorders.
  2. Stimulating communication and social interaction: We use music to facilitate communication and social interaction between our residents, caregivers, and family members. We often sing our greetings to our residents, which brings their focus into the present and elicits a singing response, which immediately lightens up the mood for the entire community.
  3. Encouraging physical movement: Music can also encourage physical movement, such as dancing or tapping along to the beat, which can help to improve motor function and balance. When we notice our residents tapping right along with the music, even when they can’t speak, we know they are engaged and enjoying the moment.
  4. Promoting reminiscence and storytelling: Music can stimulate memories and encourage those living with dementia to reminisce and share stories from their past, which can be a source of comfort and connection. Our travels and story telling programs rely heavily on music to bring those wonderful memories back to live.
  5. Reducing need for medication: Studies have shown that music therapy can reduce the need for medication in people with dementia, particularly for symptoms such as agitation and anxiety. The results of our musical programs certainly corroborate those findings, as we see the positive effects in mood and positive feelings ripple long after the programs are over.

Overall, music can be a powerful tool for improving the quality of life for people with dementia, and an integral component of our care strategy. Our music programs are a valuable complementary approach to the management of dementia symptoms, in addition to the other sensory stimulating strategies we implement at Villa Alamar.

As always, friends and family members are encouraged to join us for the programs we provide every day of the week. Please check our current calendar of activities and come join the fun!

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