Music has a powerful impact on everyone, but can release a tripwire of powerful memories to the elderly. This is why music therapy is one of the most effective treatments for the elderly.
No musician or music lover denies the transformative power of music. Music is good for the spirit, however young or old you may be. A clip from the soon to be released documentary about music and the elderly, Alive Inside, recently went viral. It shows an older man with dementia who is seemingly only able to answer yes or no questions. But when someone puts headphones over his ears and plays music from his youth, he suddenly transforms, becoming happy, animated, and even eloquent. Shortly after this experience he tells an interviewer, “It [music] gives me the feeling of love, of romance. I figure right now the world needs to come into music, singing.”
If there is an older person in your life who loves music, but who has fallen out of practice, encourage him or her to rekindle that passion. There’s everything to gain and nothing to lose. Here are some pointers:
- If you have an elderly relative who used to play an instrument, try to get him or her playing again. If there’s an instrument up in the attic, dust it off and restring it. Have it fixed up if necessary. If the instrument is gone, buy an affordable replacement.
- If you and your older loved one sing or play instruments, by all means do so together, especially if you haven’t before. Music can create a very special bond.
- If your loved one was a music lover, but not a musician, ask about his or her favorite music. Maybe even ask for a list of his or her favorite artists, albums, and songs. Then get your loved one an easy to use MP3 player with his or her favorite music already preloaded. If your generosity extends to strangers, one organization, Music and Memory, even accepts donations of used iPods to be used in music therapy.
For a fascinating, in-depth article about music therapy, see Music and the Mind: A Different Kind of Dementia Therapy in our article archive.
- Music: The Most Powerful Medicine in the World (metalstate.wordpress.com)
- Healing Effects of Music (andersonissues.com)
- Music therapy: a key to unlocking the diseased brain. (babyboomersandmore.com)
- Alzheimer’s Disease Sufferers Benefit Greatly From Music (Documentary) (inquisitr.com)