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The Unexpected Benefits of Music Therapy for Dementia Patients

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Music therapy has emerged as a powerful tool for improving the lives of dementia patients in ways that go beyond traditional treatments. This therapeutic approach taps into the universal language of music to unlock memories, soothe anxiety, and enhance overall well-being.

While dementia’s main symptoms, like memory loss and confusion, are tough to manage, music therapy provides a pleasant and non-invasive way to engage with patients.

In this blog, we’ll look at how music therapy can bring joy, comfort, and better cognitive function to people with dementia.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy uses music and its elements, like sound, rhythm, and harmony, to achieve various goals such as reducing stress and improving quality of life. A qualified music therapist designs personalized sessions based on your needs, preferences, and experiences. These sessions can include singing, playing instruments, writing music, or listening to music and discussing its meaning.

The number and length of sessions depend on individual goals and needs. Music therapy differs from simply listening to music for relaxation, as it involves a therapeutic relationship and structured sessions led by a trained therapist.

This therapy helps with physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. It has been shown to support physical rehabilitation, facilitate movement, enhance emotional support, and provide alternative ways for individuals to express themselves, especially when words are insufficient.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a term for various neurological conditions that affect the brain and worsen over time. It involves a significant decline in thinking, memory, and reasoning abilities, impacting daily life and activities. People with dementia may struggle with controlling emotions and their personalities might change.

It is more common in older adults—affecting about one-third of those aged 85 or older—but it is not a normal part of aging. Dementia can also occur in midlife, though this is rare. The most common cause of dementia in older adults is Alzheimer’s disease, but other diseases can also lead to dementia. Some symptoms may be reversible, depending on the cause.

How does music therapy affect our brains?

Music therapy positively impacts the brain by engaging various neural pathways and altering brain activity. Here are some of the positive effects of music:

  • Boosts Alpha Waves

Studies show that music therapy can boost alpha wave activity, which is linked to relaxation and comfort. For example, in individuals with schizophrenia, music therapy sessions have been found to boost these alpha waves, promoting emotional and physical relief.

  • Enhance Social Skills

Additionally, music therapy activates brain areas involved in social interactions and interpersonal relationships, making it particularly effective for children who need help developing social skills.

  • Emotion Regulation

Music therapy also helps regulate emotions by activating brain areas responsible for emotion processing. This effect has been observed in brain imaging studies where therapist’s and clients’ brain activities synchronized during successful sessions.

Furthermore, music therapy can lower stress levels by reducing the hormone cortisol and influencing heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.

Music therapy for dementia – What’s the connection?

Music therapy is a powerful tool for individuals with dementia, offering a unique way to enhance their quality of life. Dementia affects memory, thinking, and behavior, making daily interactions challenging. Music, however, taps into parts of the brain less affected by the disease, providing a bridge to memories and emotions.

Listening to familiar tunes can evoke memories and feelings from the past, even when other forms of communication are difficult. Singing along or playing simple instruments can stimulate brain activity, improve mood, and reduce anxiety. This connection to music helps patients feel more engaged and less isolated.

Family members and caregivers also benefit from music therapy. It provides a shared activity that can strengthen bonds and create joyful moments. In essence, music therapy offers a non-pharmacological approach to managing dementia symptoms, enriching the lives of those affected and providing a sense of connection and comfort.

Is there any certain type of music that suits people with dementia?

When it comes to music therapy for people with dementia, certain types of music can be particularly effective.

  • Familiar Tunes

The familiar tunes from their past, especially songs from their youth or early adulthood are often the best music for individuals with dementia. These songs can evoke memories and emotions, providing a comforting and joyful experience.

  • Classical Music

Classical music, with its soothing and structured nature, is also beneficial. It can help calm agitation and reduce anxiety, creating a peaceful environment. Gentle, melodic tunes without abrupt changes are usually more effective than complex or loud music.

  • Culturally Significant Music

Folk songs, hymns, and other culturally significant music can have a strong positive impact. These types of music are often deeply rooted in a person’s identity and can bring a sense of connection and belonging.

  • Personalization in Music Therapy

Personalization is key in choosing music for dementia patients. Caregivers and therapists should consider the individual’s preferences and history when selecting music. It’s also helpful to observe the person’s reactions and adjust the playlist accordingly.

Overall, while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, familiar, calming, and culturally significant music tends to be most effective for people with dementia, enhancing their quality of life and providing moments of joy and connection.


Que: What role does music therapy play in helping dementia sufferers?

Ans: Moreover, memory diseases like dementia lead to the underactivity of specialized brain cells which may result in plants if not stimulated by sound.

Que: Which kind of music is most suitable for a person with dementia?

Ans:  Now, what records could you play for your dear one who has dementia? The best responses come from familiar and preferred songs, as well as those that are connected to our experiences in the past like young age (18-25), because these songs evoke memories easily.

Que: Are there any drawbacks to using music therapy on a person with dementia?

Ans:  Notice how individuals react when you start playing music since some types might bring back hurtful reminiscences. Additionally, Alzheimer’s patients may find loud music disturbing or overwhelming when played close by them.

Que: What are the three golden rules of dementia?

Ans:  The SPECAL approach starts with three Golden Rules: never ask direct questions; listen to the expert – the person with dementia – and learn from them; do not contradict.


Music therapy has been proven to be transformative for individuals with dementia, going beyond mere escapism. By tapping into neural circuits that are still intact despite the course of the disease, music therapy can evoke reminiscences of past events, brighten moods, and improve social interactions. It is a non-invasive way of joyfully dealing with symptoms associated with dementia resulting in better life quality for patients as well as their caregivers.

The evidence for the benefits of this treatment is compelling, showing it should become an integral part of a care plan for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. It offers opportunities for meaningful connections and emotional relief that bring comfort and happiness into everyday life.

If you have someone close who suffers from dementia or you are a caregiver seeking support services, consider integrating music therapy into his or her routine. Consultation with a qualified music therapist will help to design an individualized therapy plan. For more information on music therapy benefits and how to start using it visit our website or call CFC Recovery today! Together we can take healing through music to those who need it most!