The Sound of Music
By Teresa Dumain
NeurologyNow, April/May 2016
A playlist of familiar songs can help improve the well-being of people with Alzheimer’s disease
The Power of Music
Personalized music playlists can help promote well-being and enhance quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive impairments, say Daniel C Potts, MD, FAAN, a neurologist at the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alabama, who witnessed the effect of music on his own father. When Dr. Potts’ father, who passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s, was in hospice the last few days of his life, he couldn’t respond or speak at all. “So we just stood around his bedside and sang the old church hymns he grew up with,” he recalls. “We were amazed when he actually sang with us, or at least mouthed the words.”
To make a playlist for someone you love, follow these tips from the Music & Memory organization.
Get the gear. You’ll need a computer or tablet; an iPod or other digital music player; and a pair of lightweight, adjustable, over-the-ear headphones.
Create a song list. Some digital music players hold up to 300 songs, others more. Aim for 80 to 100 selections in the beginning.
Focus on familiar music. Songs from the person’s own young adult years----when he or she was aged 18 to 25----may be the most engaging. The key is to choose tunes that have positive associations. Talk to family and friends for ideas, or, if possible, ask the person herself. What artists or songs did she listen to when she was young?
For more information or help setting up a playlist, visit musicandmemory.org.