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Benefits of Music and Dementia

September 2, 2021
Categories: News

Bringing happiness to some and healing to others, music is the language of the soul, and people around the world have been tapping into the therapeutic benefits of music for decades. 

Did you know music can be used to help heal emotional issues and neurological complications? 

Indeed, music can play a vital role in simply managing a person’s mood and or completely improving their overall well-being. That’s why — when it comes to music for dementia — embracing the healing properties of melodies, lyrics and rhythms has shown to have excellent results with seniors who are struggling with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. 

The Role of Music in Our Lives

People are exposed to melodies and music from a very young age. Parents sing to their children to calm them, schools routinely encourage learning through song, and every celebration we engage in typically includes some form of musical refrain. 

In fact, music is intertwined in nearly everything we do. Some of the more telling stats associated with music include the following:

  • Active musical engagement, including those over age 50, was associated with higher rates of happiness and good cognitive function.
  • Music listeners had higher scores for mental well-being and slightly reduced levels of anxiety and depression compared to people overall.
  • Adults with no early music exposure but who currently engage in some music appreciation show above average mental well-being scores.1

Music for Dementia

Recent research has shown that music therapy can be used to significantly reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and apathy in people struggling with dementia. 

  • Scientific evidence for an improvement in cognitive function and a reduction in agitation has inspired assisted living facilities to begin incorporating music therapy as a form of treatment to help residents not only live with cognitive decline, but also achieve a more fulfilling life. 
  • In particular, one research project studied people with Alzheimer’s and found their memory for music was not affected by the disease. This was shown when they performed similarly to those without Alzheimer’s in recognizing songs and lyrics. 

This musical impact on those with dementia has been attributed to the fact that music stimulates many parts of the brain at the same time. Those areas affecting language, mood and movement, along with the senses of hearing, sight, sound and touch, are all engaged when music is played. 

This is why music for dementia patients can be an essential component of their treatment protocol, helping to improve their quality of life and overall well-being.2

Benefits of Music for People with Dementia

Some of the more notable benefits associated with exposing people with dementia to musical therapy include:

  • Music helps elicit memory recall 

Listening to music has been shown to evoke emotion in even the most advanced of Alzheimer’s patients. That’s because the melodies can elicit emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory and the feeling of life like nothing else can. 

By pairing music with everyday activities, people struggling with dementia can develop a rhythm that helps them to recall the memory of that activity, which works to improve cognitive ability over time.3

  • Music helps to encourage communication 

Music has the ability to be used as a way to communicate for people who have lost the ability to speak because of dementia. When they join in singalongs, people living with dementia are often able to express themselves and gain the benefits of engaging in a social activity. Additionally, when they listen to a favorite song, they may clap, nod or tap in rhythm to the music.3 

  • Music helps to manage stress and improve overall mood 

Music can improve a person’s mood, facilitate cognitive function, manage their stress-induced agitation, coordinate motor movements, and stimulate positive interactions. This is because music requires minimal mental processing, so singing music doesn’t require the cognitive function that is not present in people struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia.4

  • Music helps to encourage physical activity 

Adding music therapy to exercise sessions helps dementia patients focus on movement and physical activity. In addition, adding singing to the process of exercise can help an individual with their breathing while keeping them focused on the activity at hand.4

Assisted Living Memory Care at Artis: Where Music Therapy Can Enrich the Lives of Those with Alzheimer’s and Other Forms of Dementia 

Incorporating music therapy into your loved one’s individual treatment plan can not only improve their cognitive functioning, but it can also improve their overall well-being. From helping to reduce stress and anxiety to improving feelings of depression, healing through music is an essential component to achieving a state of happiness and contentment. 

At Artis, whether it’s bright and energetic melodies for morning activities or calm and gentle songs to wind down in the evening, music is a simple and highly effective way we help our residents manage emotions and improve their state of mind.

We respect your loved one’s interests and inspirations and allow them the freedom to choose how they spend each day while providing you the assurance that they are protected and safe. That’s The Artis Way.  

For more information about our communities and assisted living care, find a location near you.


AARP. Music Nourishes and Delights. Accessed August 24, 2021. https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/health/info-2020/brain-health-and-music.html.

Practical Neurology. Music and Dementia: An Overview. Accessed August 24, 2021. https://practicalneurology.com/articles/2017-june/music-and-dementia-an-overview

Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. Playing Music or Singing Has Benefits for People with Dementia. Accessed August 24, 2021. https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/prevention/playing-music-or-singing-has-benefits-for-people-with-dementia/. 

VeryWell Health. How Music Therapy Can Benefit Alzheimer's Patients. Accessed August 24, 2021. https://www.verywellhealth.com/using-music-in-alzheimers-disease-97624

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