Early-stage Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect one person- it can impact a whole family. Suddenly, family members are launched into an unfamiliar role and have to cope with their new situation. Thankfully, in the early stages, there is still time to plan for the future with loved ones. Here are some tips from Alzheimer’s Family Center’s social worker team for when you’re coping with your new role as a caregiver.
Music has always had a healing influence. It can help soothe a crabby mood as well as ease someone into gentle slumber. Music can also be useful for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
A recent study conducted at the University of Miami School of Medicine revealed that music therapy helped produce more of the brain’s “feel-good chemicals” including melatonin, serotonin, and prolactin in Alzheimer’s patients. This means that after listening for a certain amount of time, the patients’ moods began improving and even facilitated some cognition. Even as cognitive functions decline, the brain still responds naturally to music, thus giving patients many benefits.
Music can be used to evoke memories from a patient’s pasts. Choose your loved one’s favorite songs or musical styles and try to sing together. If your loved one is mobile, perhaps you could even try dancing to it! Not only could it bring back memories of his/her childhood, but it also may help you to connect with one another.
Even if your loved one is in the later stages of the disease, music can still make a positive impact. Patients who are frustrated by the inability to communicate or environmental stimuli can react positively to soft music.
Sing-Fit is a music therapy app specifically designed for people with dementia. Caregivers can pick from over 300 songs to sing along with their loved one. It also incorporates simple exercises (such as toe-tapping and hand waving), so participants improve their mood and stay engaged.
Music can also be used as a tool such as increasing or decreasing movement. A fast, catchy song may encourage your loved one to dance and move around whereas a soft ballad may have them calm down and rest. Having soft, classical music in the background could be very helpful during bath time or bedtime.
Music has been used as a therapeutic tool for centuries, helping us relieve stress and improve our mood in general. Introducing your loved one to music therapy will calm not only them but also you in the process.