From the old to the young, music always provides pleasure and comfort. Music is even useful for providing healing to the body and the mind. In fact, music provides natural treatment and healing to individuals suffering from dementia, a condition that usually negatively affects the memory, speech, judgment, and reasoning of an individual. Some forms of dementia can also cause an individual to lose emotional and behavioral control. There are several different classification schemes of dementia, for which music can provide treatment and healing.
Classification Schemes of Dementia
• Secondary Dementia: Patients suffering from diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease can develop dementia due to medication or poor brain functions.
• Hereditary Dementia: Some dementia forms are triggered by hereditary disease such as Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease, familial British dementia and fatal familial insomnia. Typically, these diseases cause hallucinations and poor reflexes within the body.
• Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease: The disease is a fatal brain disease and typically only occurs in individuals over 60 years of age. It tends to cause personality changes, impaired judgment and motor skills and eventually coma.
• Corticobasal Degeneration: This disease causes nerve cell loss in multiple areas of the brain along with declining motor skills and poor coordination. Sometimes memory loss and speech problems occur along with another condition known as dysphasia, which causes an individual trouble with swallowing.
• Dementia Pugilistica: This disease is commonly known as Boxer's syndrome and is caused by traumatic injury to the brain, which leads to a form of dementia.
• Huntington's disease: Faulty genes within the body cause this hereditary disease. It usually develops in individuals between the ages of 30 and 40. It causes anxiety attacks, chronic depression, psychotic behavioral changes and severe dementia.
• HIV Dementia: the HIV virus spreading to the brain and causing memory loss and impaired thinking causes this form of dementia.
• Lewy Body Dementia: Patients that develop this disease suffer from the brain's cortex dying, which causes hallucinations, shuffling gait, and poor posture.
• Vascular Dementia: Elders are typically affected most by this disease since it is commonly related to cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and stroke.
• Alzheimer's disease: This disorder is the most common one that causes dementia in patients over the age of 65. Alzheimer's causes difficulty speaking, involuntary movements, poor judgment skills, behavioral issues, abstract thinking and severe memory loss.
How Does Music Help Dementia Patients?
Music helps dementia patients by keeping the brain active in a positive way. Sometimes different forms of music can unlock memories and help dementia patients communicate with their loved ones, which is a pure gift.
Music is also a useful healing tool for calming down a patient suffering from dementia, since music communicates with the brain to promote calmness. When a person listens to music that they enjoy, dopamine is released in the brain, causing a pleasurable, calming sensation.
Some of the best types of music to use to help stimulate the auditory system of the brain are violin, cello, piano, flute and the drums. Music and memories are strongly tied together in the brain, and listening to music naturally evokes different memories associated with music. Sometimes playing a loved ones favorite band or musician can help a loved one remember special times they shared with you, as well as names, birthdays and special events that occurred around the era your loved one listened to specific songs.
When dementia starts to progress into very late stages, your loved one may lose their ability to speak and express themselves. Playing music, and swaying or dancing with your loved one is a great way for you and your loved one to remain emotionally close when speech isn't an option.
If your loved one is suffering from dementia, and treatments alone aren't helping, try playing music for them instead. Music will provide healing and calmness to their mind and their body.