I believe most of us can attribute a loss within our lifetime to a loved one or friend that has had a form of dementia. I have experienced it first hand with my father and grandmother. I have often said this is an unforgiving disease and in many cases I think it’s worse than cancer or other diseases. They say that experiencing dementia is worse on the loved one rather than the person with the disease. I don’t prescribe to this theory and think that in many cases the person suffering dementia may be fighting against it for a long time.
With that said, I am seeing more and more articles pop up in my social media feeds suggesting that music has an impact on those with dementia. Very interesting studies out there promoting this and I do believe it’s true.
Familiar music can trigger something called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), which is not lost when someone has Alzheimer’s. ASMR is compared to a brain stimulation and you recall the piece of music and react accordingly which can calm you and put you in a relaxed mood.
My father enjoyed traditional Armenian music and there were times when I would play music for him on the kanun or with recordings, he would become fixated on the music and it clearly relaxed him for a bit.
Music can evoke an emotion that someone with dementia may recall because it brings back that memory. Some studies even suggest that when all other ways to communicate with a person with dementia, music still can get through.
I have found that watching old movies with my father at times was helpful and had a similar reaction. Especially the old westerns and Charlie Chaplin movies.