Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

Music Therapy and Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is expected to strike fourteen million people in the U.S. over the next forty years. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are one of the most costly diseases to society to affect families and caregivers. Even though the disease may be more treatable as medicine advances, it is still an incurable and degenerative disease. Persons with Alzheimer’s disease experience significant confusion and memory loss. However, the person’s ability to engage in music, particularly rhythm playing and singing, can remain intact late into the disease’s process.

When used appropriately, music can be effective in fine-tuning physiological mechanisms such as alleviating anxiety, reducing respiratory distress, and assisting in altering biochemical mediators such as endorphins, which help reduce pain. Music activates a different pathway in the brain that by-passes the impaired region that is associated with memory loss.

Music therapy provides opportunities for:

  • Increased memory recall which contributes to reminiscence and satisfaction with life
  • Positive changes in mood and emotional states
  • Increased sense of control over life through successful experiences
  • Reduced anxiety and stress
  • Non-pharmacological management of pain and discomfort
  • Physical exercise
  • Emotional intimacy when spouses and families share creative music experiences
  • Spiritual well-being