Music can be a tremendous help in easing the confused brain of those with memory impairment. With speech being so difficult, the house can be very quiet. I think the distraction of music creates a more enjoyable atmosphere for everyone concerned. I like to mix up the genres because each type of music does something different for my mother.
On days when mom is more agitated, I play classical music for her. She moves her arms like a conductor even when she is sitting in her chair with her eyes closed, half asleep. Or, at breakfast, her spoon becomes her baton as she conducts her orchestra out there somewhere. When we’re in the car, I sometimes play music from the Big Band Era. She will actually attempt to sing along with these tunes but unfortunately, her speech can’t keep up. Children’s music, like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Old McDonald’s Farm are also songs that are still deep in the memory of dementia patients. When there is a birthday being celebrated my mother knows all the words to Happy Birthday To You. Christmas can be everyday in your house because those melodies are also ingrained in our brains. On days when I’m in an upbeat mood I’ll play my favorite Grateful Dead concerts and mom will actually get up and dance with me!
Playing instruments for someone with symptoms of dementia is also a good way to get their mind off their confusion. When my brother, Steve, plays guitar or when I play piano for mom, she smiles with delight and claps at the end. A few years back, when mom knew she was losing her memory, she started playing piano. However, she no longer seems interested in playing herself so I will continue to provide her with music in her world.
I keep all our music on an iPod and use a portable sound dock so I can take it anywhere, inside or out. Mom isn’t too crazy about ear buds and headphones so that’s not an option for her anymore but it might be for you. That way, you can watch television or read a book or…..