It might be surprising to those familiar with dementia and Alzheimer’s that music can have such a profound effect on those living with these conditions. After all, some of the hallmarks of various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, are less likely to tolerate distractions like background noise, crowded spaces, or other overstimulating environments. However, our brains process music differently than other types of sound, and music awakens connections to other parts of the brain in a way that, say, the chatter of a crowded restaurant or a garbage truck coming down the street would not.
Stanford researcher Daniel Abrams found that participants in a study who listened to the same symphony all had nearly identical responses. MRI scans showed that regions of the brain, dedicated to movement, planning, attention, and memory—the exact same parts of the brain that are most affected by dementia, were stimulated. Scientists have numerous theories about why we evolved to be hardwired for music in this way. Some think it is a result of language acquisition skills earlier in life. Others believe it is because of our innate ability to process history, thus retaining large amounts of crucial information. Another theory is derived from the way we socialize and communicate with one another. Whatever the reason might be, it is evident that music has had a profound effect on people for as long as we’ve been, well, human.
That opens a broad realm of possibilities for how music can be used to help seniors with dementia in effort to slow the rate of memory loss or ease the isolating symptoms of more advanced cases. From mnemonic devices that can be sung to help remember routines or daily processes to soothing melodies that can help calm a senior agitated by their inability to remember an almost-familiar face, there are all sorts of ways that music can be used therapeutically.
Music that inspires a great deal of emotion in the listener, positive or negative, has a proportional effect on the brain. The more a song affects the listener emotionally, the more his or her brain lights up in response. That means that hearing a favorite song can stimulate an otherwise withdrawn senior, help jumpstart a conversation, or match the mood enjoy on a good day. Similarly, mellow songs can be used to set the tone for bedtime or periods of rest.
You can enjoy music with your loved one by collecting some of their favorite songs, whether it’s Scott Joplin, Beethoven, Red Buttons, Frank Sinatra, or another artist. Perhaps your senior loved ones have some old records or CDs still that could provide clues as to what might create a positive response. Or you can try to chat with them about songs they enjoyed when they were younger. You might even ask family members or old friends about your loved one’s favorite tunes. When you play music, be sure you have good quality headphones or speaker setup, and if necessary, that it is compatible with hearing aids. You want to make sure the volume is comfortable, but loud enough to hear.
Listening to music together can be a great pastime that inspires conversation and helps you get to know your loved one on a whole new level. It can be such a joy to watch their faces light up and their bodies start to move to the beat. Be prepared to listen to stories that the song recalls or to thoughts and opinions about the artist. You never know what associations might be conjured up as neurons fire and the brain responds to each beat.
As with any other activity you undertake with loved ones with Alzheimer’s, be prepared to take a break if they become frustrated or overwhelmed. Going for a short walk or having a snack can be great way to hit the pause button. Also, make sure there is not any background noise or any other distraction that could make it hard for your loved one to focus on the activity at hand. If you need support in any aspect of senior caregiving with Alzheimer’s, contact the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s national toll-free helpline at 866.232.8484. From 9AM to 9PM, they have licensed social workers who can answer your questions. They are also available on Skype, live chat, and via email.
Written by: Meghan O'Dea
Did you know that there are many different levels of Senior Care? In the event that you are thinking about senior care but do not know which option will be the best fit, there are multiple senior care choices accessible to you that differ greatly according to the level of self-reliance and senior satisfaction. At Maybelle Carter seniors are offered full continuum care, alongside similar aged peers. Listed below are the list of pros and cons for each.
Independent Living: this retirement way of life is perfect for individuals who are still dynamic and free, but also like to have someone cook and clean for them.
In-Home Care: this senior care, also known as “aging in place” is dependent upon the state of the senior, which includes standard checkups to ensure the health of the senior.
Assisted Living: this senior living alternative is perfect for seniors who find they require more hands-on assistance with daily tasks like showering, dressing and, administering pharmaceuticals.
Memory Care: this specified senior care program offers care to residents experiencing the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's.
For further counsel on selecting the appropriate senior care, consult with a specialist or primary care physician. Also, if you have questions regarding senior care arrangements, get in touch with us today to schedule a no obligation evaluation! We cheerfully welcome you, your friends, and family to join our Maybelle community today.
Written by: Katie Hanley
There are many great reasons for retirees to visit or relocate to the Madison area, but one key to the quality of life here is the rich abundance of things for seniors to see and do in Nashville, TN – many of the activities at a reduced price for seniors, or free.
Here in Madison, veteran residents often enjoy paying tribute to the fallen soldiers at the Nashville National Cemetery. It is a humbling experience to visit the monuments of the service men and women who so bravely fought, dating back to the Civil War Era. A quiet afternoon stroll through the greenway allows time for reflection and gratitude, while also enjoying a breath of fresh air and exercise. It’s a wonderful place to visit, especially on Memorial Day to see each grave decorated with small patriotic flags.
Looking for some good, ol’ fashioned bluegrass music? Look no further than Larry's Grand Ole Garage & Blue Grass Music Park. As many would describe this hole in the wall dive as Madison’s hidden gem, it offers family-friendly, foot-stomping music in true Southern style! Here, seniors and their families can enjoy good music, good food, and an overall good time.
We’re about 15 minutes from Downtown Nashville, which offers a wealth of things to see and do. The major attractions are:
Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art – Nestled in the foliage of the Tennessee hills, browse through the 55-acre historical estate, an elegant Georgian-style mansion surrounded byspectacular gardens. Don’t miss the garden-scale, outdoor train made entirely from materials found in nature. Bridges and cedar mountains make this exhibit fun for the whole family! Admission to the inside is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 for youth, and free for children 2 or under.
Grand Ole Opry – Seniors and their families can enjoy a piece of country music history at the Grand Ole Opry, which began as a broadcast radio station in 1925. Since then, the iconic home of American music has hosted country music legends, award-winning artists, and defined the Nashville music scene.
Ryman Auditorium – This performance hall has seen the likes of artists such as Elvis Presley, Paul Simon, and B.B. King. The Ryman is a tried and true testament of how one stage can connect us all through toe-tapping tunes. Visit the home where bluegrass music was born for a guided or self-guided tour today.
Belle Meade Plantation – A 34-acre Southern plantation with a name that literally translates to beautiful meadow is sure to not disappoint. The estate was founded by John Harding in 1807. Today, the grounds are a part of Tennessee’s historic architecture preservation and equestrian education. Visitors are welcome to tour the property, as well as shop, dine, and enjoy wine tastings. Tours begin every 30 minutes. Adults 65+ ask about their senior admission discount!
Nashville Showboat – All Aboard The Nashville Riverboat General Jackson to experience the city in an elegant “Old South” style. Carving through the banks of the Cumberland River, this luxury riverboat is reminiscent of the Victorian Era, offers stunning views, a delicious, freshly prepared meal, and entertainment.
Lane Motor Museum – Calling all automotive enthusiasts! Take a tour of Nashville’s beloved automotive collection. During your tour, you will spot restored and uniquely different automobiles, as well as motorcycles, aviation machines, and even some amphibious crafts. Lane Motor Museum isone of the few displays to specialize in sporty, European models.
John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge – Also known as the Shelby Street Bridge, this 3,150-foot-long iconic pedestrian bridge spans the Cumberland riverbanks, as one of the largest pedestrian bridges in the world. There’s no charge to visit this popular walking spot. There are benches along the way for those who need to stop and rest while enjoying the view of the river and the people enjoying their day.
Senior discounts are available at select hotels, retail stores, restaurants, and grocery stores near these attractions. At Maybelle Carter Senior Living, we arrange for our residents to participate in group outings to local attractions. Being part of a group of peers living together in Nashville Assisted Living makes for a great way to experience these sights and sounds.
To learn more about things for seniors to do in Nashville TN, visit http://www.visitmusiccity.com/visitors
Written by: Katie Hanley