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Music Therapy with Dementia

Case Study: Joe was admitted to a long-term care facility for hospice care. He has family that is very involved in his life, but Joe’s cognitive and physical functioning is extremely limited. He rarely speaks and when he does it is with one word responses. During a group music therapy session, the music therapist told group members that they would play and listen to some older music by Frank Sinatra. Turning to Joe and asking him which of two song he would prefer to listen to, one of the songs being “My Way”, Joe looked at the music therapist and said, “My Way.” As the song began to play Joe started to smile. When the lines, “I did it my way” played, Joe would sing along with the group, smiling and never missing the timing of the lyrics.

Lifting the Fog of Dementia: Music is a universal language. It can bridge the gap between the past and the present, often created by physical and cognitive deficits in those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Music therapy with older adults and those living with dementia is effective because music, as a form of sensory stimulation, provokes a variety of responses. This is due to its familiarity, predictability and ability to foster feelings of security in the forgotten and unpredictable world of dementia.

Benefits of Music Therapy: Older adults working with a music therapist can receive many benefits including:

  • maintenance of cognitive abilities
  • memory recall
  • fostering emotional intimacy of family through shared musical experiences
  • improvement of physical functioning
  • increased social connections
  • decreased agitation
  • expression of feelings and creativity
  • sense of control in life through successful experiences
  • increasing awareness of environment
  • non-pharmaceutical reduction of pain and anxiety

We accomplish this through a variety music interventions including songwriting, singing, playing instruments, listening, creative movement, improvisation, discussion and musical games. For people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, this holistic, non-pharmaceutical therapy gives people back some of their self and allows them to experience calm and positive connections with others. For caregivers, it provides a way to re-connect with loved ones and those they care for.

How does it work?: Melisma Music Therapy Services provides a seamless process for adding music therapy to your existing services and rehabilitation programs. There is no need for additional payroll or employee benefit expense. Schedule services to meet your budgetary needs.

We will work together to:

  • Discuss your objectives, understand the expectations and potential obstacles and provide a strategy for implementing music therapy services in your facility.
  • Determine the best types of programming for your residents:
    individual, group, weekly or bi-weekly sessions.
  • Integrate music therapy with your physical therapists, speech therapists and administrators as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

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