Can Music Help Prevent Dementia This Startup Thinks So
Grandpa, can you please turn your medicine down?
No! My doc says I have to rock out!!
Yes according to Muru Music Health, music as medicine could soon become a reality.
The theory is that music could be a powerful tool to help battle forms of cognitive decline such as dementia.
The potential benefits of music therapy have been explored for years but now, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, were about to take a huge leap forward.
Its all thanks to Muru Music Healths new platform, AI Music Brain. The creators of the platform claim that it analyzes music the same way our brain does allowing for unprecedented levels of personalization.
In other words, it can learn your favorite type of music and then cue it up for you. Cool, right?
Music Expertise Aging Cognitionand Dementia Risk
Music can have a significant impact on memory and cognition beyond merely listening to it. In fact, musicians have been shown to have greater volume of the auditory cortex , premotor regions, cerebellum, and anterior corpus callosum compared to non-musicians. Musicians are likely to recruit both halves of the brain when performing music tasks and use multiple rather than single strategies to perform music cognition tasks. Studies have shown that elderly musicians outperform non-musicians on tasks assessing auditory processing, cognitive control, and comprehension of speech in noisy environments.16-17 This has also been shown to occur in elderly persons with minimal early music training and even after a short period of music training in those with no previous music training. In addition, music training early in life was associated with faster neural responses to speech in elderly individuals.
What Is Music Therapy
Music therapy, along with other types of expressive therapies, uses the arts to provide psycho-social support to seniors. It can be used to help seniors with a wide range of issues, including depression, anxiety, pain, changes in health status, or difficulty adjusting to a new living environment.
Expressive therapies also include other modalities like art, poetry, and movement. Expressive therapists are masters-level mental health counselors who also have formal training in their chosen art form. Leticia uses singing, piano, viola, percussion, and guitar to engage seniors during therapy sessions, encouraging them to participate at whatever level is appropriate for their abilities.
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What Are The Benefits Of Music For Dementia Patients
Music improves understanding, mood, behavior, and communication, according to a review of;several studies on music intervention for Alzheimers Disease. Specifically, music and dementia research;suggest music can:
- Enhance memory
- Reduce agitation and anxiety
- Improve cognition
Music with a fun beat can promote light exercise by leading to increased movement. Low-tempo music, meanwhile, has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
How Music Helps Caregivers Of Someone With Alzheimers Disease
Music benefits not only the person with Alzheimers disease, but their caregivers as well.
One of Dr. Bonakdarpours studies found that musical intervention improved the agitation and anxiety of both the patient and their caregiver. Social communication between the pairs improved in both verbal and nonverbal ways, like eye contact. For the control group of this study, which did not use musical intervention, communication got worse.
People with Alzheimers may come alive again when they hear music. Some start dancing alone or with their caregivers, which is a very big deal, says Dr. Bonakdarpour. Caregivers find the person lost to them in the context of music.
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Somewhere Over The Rainbow
This list wouldnt be complete without Judy Garlands signature song. Winner of the 1939 Academy Award for Best Original Song, the ballad is one of the most enduring standards of the 20th century and a classic for multiple generations. With its wistful lyrics, its a great choice to either put someone at ease or take them back in time.
How Does It Help With Dementia
When someone has dementia, certain areas of their brain stop working as effectively. According to the creators, AI Music Brain helps to stimulate those areas of the brain.
Neurologists, data scientists, and researchers have long known that if you listen to a particular song that you know from the past, it can trigger your memory and emotions at the same time, said Nicc Johnson, founder of Muru Music Health.
Patients using the platform get access to a huge library of songs most of which came out before the 1980s.
The platform is scheduled to launch in with beta testing currently underway. Assuming the test is successful, Muru Music Health plans to expand their offerings to assist with other areas of mental health.
Learn more at
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Contact Long Island Alzheimer’s And Dementia Center To Learn More About Music & Dementia
Whether you are a caregiver looking for different day programs for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or a family member looking to learn more about the different stages of Alzheimer’s; the Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center can help. We are proud to be one of the few comprehensive centers offering programs and services for all three stages of the disease as well as in-home respite care and caregiver support groups.
In addition, we offer different programming based on the latest research, including services that incorporate the connection between music and dementia. At Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center, we are determined on making an impact in the lives of those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia one person one family, one community at a time.
How Music Awakens Those With Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Recent data indicate that approximately 5.7 million people in the U.S. suffer from Alzheimer’s. This includes an estimated 5.5 million people over the age of 65. For an individual with Alzheimer’s, the language and memory centers are particularly damaged by the disease. However, the area of the brain which is responsible for attention stays relatively functional. This is the same part of the brain that registers music in a healthy person. Researchers and scientists are studying why music affects memory and how music can be used to help those with Alzheimer’s.
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Medical Studies On Music And The Impact On Alzheimers Patients
Some medical research has been devoted to understanding how music can help people with Alzheimers disease.
- Music evokes emotion, even in advanced Alzheimers patients, which helps them remember certain activities or make subconscious associations with them.
- Pairing music with daily activities helps to improve cognition, including recognition of daily routines.
- Musical aptitude and appreciation are two abilities that remain the longest in the brain during the progression of Alzheimers disease.
- Music can increase emotional closeness with caretakers while Alzheimers can take away a persons ability to emotionally bond with their caretakers.
One study found that music therapy reduced agitation in patients with dementia. An overview of the medical literature found that music therapy, when included as part of a larger treatment plan, reduced anxiety and stress levels with as little as two 30-minute sessions of music therapy per week.
Another review of 25 trials involving patients with stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons, and Alzheimers disease, along with other neurological conditions, concluded that music is a great therapeutic approach to reducing anxiety and depression in people who suffer serious medical conditions, including those impacting cognition, memory, and emotions. Improvements in self-esteem, mood, and quality of life were reported.
There Are Two Types Of Music Therapy: Active And Receptive
There are two ways in which music therapy works: active and receptive. In active music therapy, the patient and the therapist indulge in lively sessions of dancing, singing, and playing instruments. In receptive therapy, the therapist sings or plays music while the patient simply listens. Sometimes, the therapist identifies familiar music and creates a playlist for the patient. While these songs might give them a chance to reconnect with the past, any type of soothing sounds can help with focus and relaxation. Professional music therapy is the ideal way to go, but caretakers or immediate family members can also provide support.15 If you have a loved one with dementia, here are some ways to incorporate music into their lives:
- Select music that the patient enjoys.
- Choose music for the mood. For example, choose soft music for bedtime, or an upbeat song to invoke a memory of good times.
- Encourage clapping and moving.
- Let the patient play simple instruments like a tambourine.
- Sing along, hum, and join the fun.
- Stop the music if it brings negative emotions or distress.
- Playing the music at an optimal volume to avoid overstimulation.
- Avoid commercials or outdoor noise to keep the session distraction-free.
|Krout, Robert E. The effects of single-session music therapy interventions on the observed and self-reported levels of pain control, physical comfort, and relaxation of hospice patients. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine 18, no. 6 : 383-390.|
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How Can Music Help With Memory
The Harvard article was published following an experiment by a social worker who wanted to show the astounding effects music can have on the mood, behavior, and memory in people with dementia living at a nursing home. Family members were asked to create a list of songs their loved one once enjoyed. An individualized playlist was then created from the list and played for them to listen to. Excitingly, they were able to recall and link past events to the songs, speak, sing along and even danced!
The explanation for this may lie in findings that areas of the brain linked to musical memory remain relatively undamaged by Alzheimer’s and dementia according to Dr. Laura Mosqueda, Director of Geriatrics at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Moreover, singing or listening to music can bring out positive and pleasant emotions in your loved one. It can improve mood, reduce stress, relieve anxiety or help with depression.
How Music Helps Connect People Living With Dementia
When Eileen Pegg developed dementia in 2015, she became very anxious and easily agitated. Her carers at MHA Weston and Queensway care home in Stafford were determined to find a way to make her happier, so they decided to see if music would help.
The care home, which is a specialist dementia care unit, has provided music therapy for more than 10 years, and these sessions have made a real difference to Pegg, according to care assistant Chloe Pugh. When Pegg, now 91, attended her first music therapy session in 2016, she was crying and unable to calm down. But immediately afterwards, Pegg was a completely different person, smiling and recalling dancing with her husband. We cant eliminate her anxiety completely, but we can help to alleviate the symptoms for Eileen, and help her engage more with whats happening around her, says Pugh. By singing and clapping along to music or playing instruments at her weekly one-to-one classes, Pegg is calmer, which has encouraged her to participate in other activities, thereby improving her appetite and mood.
Pegg is not the only one to benefit from these sessions. More than 2,000 residents across MHAs 84 care homes take part in regular music therapy groups. And its not just clinical music therapy that helps dementia patients: choirs, music groups and specialist apps are all beneficial.
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Singfit: An Innovative Music Therapy Program In A Growing Number Of Communities
More than 500 senior living communities and counting use a relatively new musical app,;SingFit Prime, to engage their residents via popular tunes. It has more than 400 preprogrammed songs along with a lyric-prompting feature that says the lyrics right before theyre sung to encourage participation.
Many communities use SingFit PRIME in memory care up to 10 times a week once in the morning to promote focus and once in the afternoon to mitigate behaviors associated with;sundown syndrome;or sundowning, says Paige Young, a SingFit representative.
Singfit Prime also features music trivia for cognitive stimulation, as well as movement and visual cues for leaders to demonstrate. Senior living communities that use the app include Sunrise Senior Living, Aegis Senior Living, and Five Star Senior Living.
One of my favorite things about SingFit is that it has the ability to engage the previously unengaged, says Young. Weve had many facilitators tell us there are residents who previously did not participate in activities until they began SingFit sessions. Once engaged, the conversational abilities of residents sometimes improved, leading to greater connections.
A version for caregivers will be released in 2021, according to Young.
Benefits Of Music Therapy
The aim of music therapy in people with dementia is to address emotions, cognitive powers, thoughts, and memoriesto stimulate them and bring them to the fore. It aims to enrich and give freedom, stability, organization, and focus. Evaluation of music therapy and its impact is a complex task. Clinically significant changes are often highly individual and standardized outcome measures may not always portray what matters most. No studies before 2014 used dementia-specific validated music therapy outcome measures. In an articled entitled The Development of Music in Dementia Assessment Scales , investigators sought to obtain a deeper understanding on the meaning and value of music for people with Dementia.22 They elected to engage three focus groupsfamily caregivers, care home staff, and music therapistsin addition to dementia patients, who play an important role in giving an opinion on how music plays a role in dementia. The focus groups and interviews aimed to investigate the meaning and experience of music for people with dementia and observed the effects of music. The key questions asked in these groups were:
To people with dementia: What does music mean to you? What do you think of your music therapy/music activities? In what way is music important to you?
To families, staff, and therapists: What changes and responses do you observe in your families/clients following music therapy or music activities? How do you know if music is meaningful to the person?
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Which Musicals Or Movies Work Best
Getting a loved one with dementia or Alzheimers ;to engage with music and movies;may depend on which;;genre;they enjoy the most. But, the suggestions below can help you get started:
- The Sound of Music
- When You Wish Upon a Star
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Dr. Jane Flinn, a researcher from George Mason University says that the study should encourage caregivers.
The message is: do not give up on these men and women. You want to be performing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, effortless and engaging.
Do you or a loved one have any experience with music therapy for dementia? Share your story in the comments below.
Long Island Alzheimer’s And Dementia Center Chorus Program
Across the nation, dozens of choirs have developed for people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The goal of Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center’s Chorus Program is to reduce anxiety, exercise the brain, foster new friendships, and have fun through the remarkable power of song. Our Chorus Program brings together diagnosed individuals and their caregivers for a shared purpose.
Looking to learn more about our Music and Memory program or the Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center Chorus? Please call our center at 516-767-6856 for more information.
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Does This Only Work For Dementia Patients
Of course not! Music is a wonderful brain stimulus for people of every age. Research has shown that playing music at all ages helps the brain grow it ways it normally wouldnt. Researchers at Heidelberg University in Germany discovered that people who play music have more sensitive brains. This sensitivity is built from more connections in the brain being used. In some ways, playing music unlocks the brain.
Playing music from a young age is a great way to help any grow and feel more. From birth to death, music can make a positive impact on your life, especially if you play it.
The Need For Standardized Research
A lack of standardization in previous research makes such a meta-analysis a challenge. The study notes that the presentation of musical activities varied considerably, having been delivered by music therapists, occupational therapists, and professional musicians across a range of musical experiences and proficiencies.
In addition, the activities themselves were diverse. For example, 17 studies involved singing or playing existing music, 10 dealt with musical improvisation, and six documented movement, dance, or both.
Similarly, the studies employed different tools for assessing cognition, mood, quality of life, and anxiety.
Medical News Today asked Dorris whether the analysis was able to identify a difference in the benefit people received from different forms of active participation.
Dorris said, Based on this research, what we were able to find is that active music making, no matter the type, is helpful for general thinking and memory.
It will be exciting, Dorris added, to see future research continue to use the classification system to understand if there are specific cognitive benefits to activities like singing versus playing an instrument and how those benefits may support people with dementia.
To assess the effect of music on cognitive functioning in the new study, the researchers focused on nine studies involving 495 participants. They found that active participation in music produced a small yet significant positive effect on cognitive function.
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