Resources for Alzheimer’s Music Therapy
Graceworks Lutheran Services recently teamed up with Alzheimer’s Association of the Miami Valley to inform the public on the benefits music therapy can have for individuals living with memory conditions. Liz Marsh, Music Therapist at Bethany Village, met with an enthusiastic crowd to deliver a presentation entitled, The Power of Music in Memory Loss.
Music therapy has been used to treat memory disorders since the 40s and 50s, but many people still aren’t fully aware of its benefits. The part of the brain that processes music can stay active even into the late stages of Alzheimer’s, offering a unique window through which therapists like Liz can deliver care. Because this information is incredibly valuable – and because it was so well received at our event – we are sharing the material Liz presented.
Here are some of Liz’s top music therapy tips for Alzheimer’s:
Music therapy includes more than just listening
“There are all kinds of fun things that you can do with movement to music or reminiscing with musical trivia,” says Liz. “I gave some examples of songwriting. It is not that daunting; everyone can write a song.” A simple mad libs-type songwriting experience can be very enjoyable and cognitively stimulating.
Music can be clinical as well as fun
“If you play upbeat music during meals it has been proven to increase appetite and intake, or you can have playlists that are personalized for a certain time every day to train people’s rhythms,’” says Liz. “That is part of the thing you lose with Alzheimer’s. Your circadian rhythm gets off. If you have a playlist for the same time every evening sometimes that really helps the body get ready for sleep.”
Take advantage of online resources
Start music therapy early
“You need to get information. You need to learn important events and songs that might tie to them,” says Liz. “I use a musical life review sheet to help me learn what might stimulate them to reminisce.” Such as a song that reminds them of their mother, father, children, dating, wedding, school days, etc.
Liz feels the main problem facing wider adoption of music therapy practices is public awareness of its accessibility. Music therapy is practiced with veterans, in rehabilitation facilities and in children’s hospitals around the world because it offers a unique opportunity to impact patients on a day-to-day basis. Music can help families engage with their loved ones and improve quality of life at a time when many things are changing. You can use the resources below, including a full copy of Liz’s presentation, The Power of Music in Memory Loss, to get an introduction to music therapy. When you are ready to learn more, contact Bethany Village.
- Musical Life Review Sheet
- Fact Sheet from the Music Therapy Center of California
- Music Therapy and Alzheimer’s (from the American Music Therapy Association)
- What You Can Do to Engage Your Loved One With Music