Music & Dementia

By Our Family Home Care

Music and emotion are linked in a powerful way. People respond to music from a very early age, before words and language are developed, and this continues even towards the end of our lives, when verbal abilities may be lost.

Research suggests that listening to or singing songs can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for people with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. Musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer's disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease.

For example, music can:

  • Relieve stress
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Reduce agitation

Music can also benefit caregivers by reducing anxiety and distress, lightening the mood, and providing a way to connect with loved ones who have Alzheimer's disease — especially those who have difficulty communicating.

What are the benefits?

  • Music can be a useful way to change somebody’s mood, especially during personal care. For instance, if a person diagnosed with dementia resists your efforts to help them get dressed, playing soothing music or a favourite song can help lessen any distress.
  • Music helps people with dementia express feelings and ideas.
  • Music can help the person connect with others around them.
  • It can encourage social interaction and promotes activity in groups.
  • It can reduce social isolation.
  • It can facilitate physical exercise and dance or movement.

Music can make you remember great memories you've had and feelings you have connected to certain songs but it can also have a negative effect on your loved one.

Things to be aware of:

  • Start with gentle, quiet music. But make the music a focal point, so consider putting a record, tape or CD on in front of the person and adjusting the volume as applicable.
  • Music can awaken negative emotions as well as positive ones, so watch the person closely for any signs of discomfort and turn the music off if you think it is causing undue distress. Expressing sadness may be a normal reaction to a strong memory or association to the music and just sitting with the person during this time may be the best response.

If this is something you would like to look more into then we would encourage you to visit some of the websites that helped us with this Ourticle.

Nordoff Robbins is the largest independent music therapy charity in the UK. We can help people with dementia to live well through the specialist use of music.

Dementia UK is a specialist dementia nurse charity.

Mayo Clininc is a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, providing expert, whole-person care to everyone who needs healing.


All information provided within the ourticle is correct at time of publishing, all answers and suggestions provided by the guest are all thier personal views.