The amazing effects of music and art on memory loss.

Providing home care for a senior affected by Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia calls for more than assistance with activities of daily living or even keeping the person safe. It also requires some imagination to come up with ideas for interacting with the person in ways that are meaningful both for the caregiver and the

One such way is through the use of personalized music and art projects. These are effective tools because the love of music and of art is something that, according to research, people with memory loss never truly forget. When a person learns a song or how to play a musical instrument, his or her brain stores that knowledge as muscle memory, largely unaffected by dementia. Diseases that cause dementia tend to attack only episodic memory—events, names, and faces.

In fact, using studies involving an MRI, scientists report that when people hear music that has a personal connection to them, their entire brain registers stimulation. This is great news for professionals in memory care, especially those providing such care in the home, because using music as a therapeutic activity is relatively simple. All you need is a personalized playlist—songs that mean something to the person, like a church hymn, love song, classical number, or favorite melody—and a device on which to play the music along with headphones.

The idea has recently received national attention through the film “Alive Inside”, in which a crew toured memory care treatment programs to see how personalized music can have an amazing effect on dementia patients. The results: people were opening their eyes, nodding their heads, and tapping their toes. Most significantly, many of the effects proved lasting.

According to Music and Memory, a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of elderly through digital music technology, Musical favorites tap deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring residents and clients back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize and stay present.”

Music also can help soothe and relax an otherwise agitated person, and it can become something that both the caregiver and the person dealing with memory loss anticipate each day.

Art therapy is an effective tool in home care of a person with memory loss as well. According to Alzheimer’s Association, an art project such as painting or drawing gives the senior an opportunity for self-expression. Materials are simple: a workspace; paper or an easel; and colored pencils, paints, or pastels. It might be necessary to help get the person started by moving the pencil or paintbrush. But once he or she does begin, the results are often specific and creative. Memories that cannot be put into words anymore still spring forth when artistic freedom is given.

Music and art are just a few of the tools of compassionate home care. Please contact us to learn how much Hannah’s Home Care can do for you.