I was drawn to so many session about music therapy and the power of music to unlock both memory and cognitive function at the Aging in America conference. From the amazing quality of life improvements after participating in Alzheimer’s Choirs to functional improvements of dementia sufferers from in community music therapy, the benefits of music as medicine are staggering and certainly too big to ignore.
In one of those sessions, my internal light bulb went off. Music therapy works because we respond to melody, lyrics, and rhythms on both a physical and emotional level. Beyond that, more often than not, music evokes memories that are time, geography, and biography bound.
So…listening to and getting involved in music activates all of those areas of the brain that control physical and emotional responses plus those that process memories, geography, and life events. That is a lot happening from just one activity.
Many of you have seen the story of Henry – the Alzheimer’s Patient that had not spoken or responded in longer than his caregivers could remember and then came to life when he was introduced to an iPod and music from his era – the video set the internet on fire. Here is a video you might not have seen, created by a wonderful woman that I had the honor to meet, Amy Goyer, AARP’s Caregiving Expert. Watch her interact with her dad who has Alzheimer’s Disease. Pay attention to how his mood lifts as they sing their way through the moments. This is really a must see for all those providing care for someone with dementia as Amy gives tips on how to effectively roll music into caregiving!
We know that music makes life so much richer but music can also change lives, provide hope, and activate parts of the brain.
Brain geek alert!!!! Here is a really great explanation of what is happening in your brain when you listen to music and the potential value of music therapy!