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Singing in the Rain: How Music can Benefit those with Memory Loss

Whether musicals have been in your favorite playlists or not, music has been shown to benefit brain activity. In particular, brains needing a little extra boost.   Music making activities (e.g., forms of singing) have proven to be effective interventions for neurological and developmental disorders in re-learning.1 Activity professionals for years have known the value of music in reaching people who otherwise appear isolated from their environment.  Even our retail and corporate entities realize the value of music in creating atmosphere as well as efficiency. In many cases, music can make a rough situation a bit easier. 

Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds take a rainy day and make it noteworthy in the classic musical, Singing in the Rain. Dealing with a loved one challenged with memory issues can be much like a rainy day.  It may not feel like there is much to sing about. 

Try it anyway. 

A study using at least five music-based therapeutic interventions reduced depressive symptoms.2 This study finding should not surprise anyone who has a playlist that improves their mood.

Singing for the Brain was a study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society which showed caregiving couples who participated together in a choir showed improvements in their relationships, their memories and their mood as well as their feelings of social inclusion.  Overall, their choir participation helped them better accept and cope with dementia.3

Whether you and your companion like old show tunes, jazz or bluegrass; including music and singing into your daily routine will help with your mood, your brain health, and your overall quality of life.

 

By Line
Cate McCarty, PhD, ADC has been collaborating with Arden Courts in a variety of roles since the late 90’s.  Her background in nursing, activities and admissions has given her a passionate commitment to quality of life for the individual and family with dementia.

 

Footnotes
1Schlaug, G. (2015).  Musicians and music making as a model for the study of brain plasticity, Progress in Brain Research, 217: 37-55.

2van der Steen, J.T., van Soest-Poortvliet, M. Cvan der Wouden, J. C., Bruinsma, M. S., Scholten, R. J., et al.  (2017).  Music-based therapeutic interventions for people with dementia, Cochrane Database System Review, 2; 5.

3Osman, S. E., Tischler, V., Schneider, J. (2016).  ‘Singing for the brain’: A qualitative study exploring the health and well-being benefits of singing for people with dementia and their carers, Dementia,15(6): 1326-1339.

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