The Relationship Between Music and Memory

We’re all familiar with the feeling of nostalgia that washes over us when a song comes on the radio and triggers a landslide of memories of a specific place, person, or experience. Our senses are closely tied to our memories, and for elders experiencing memory loss or dementia, this connection can be life changing. At Options in Home Care, our primary goal is to create a safe, comfortable living situation for your elderly or disabled loved ones. We employ a number of techniques and approaches to helping elderly or disabled people live their best lives and are encouraged by the positive results we find when patients are exposed to music and the positive impact that has on their memories.

Many memory illnesses, including Alzheimer’s and many forms of dementia, destroy many parts of the brain. However, long-term memories can remain untouched by these illnesses for a long time. Long term memory of music from earlier stages of life very often remain, and by tapping into that, many caretakers of elderly persons experiencing major memory loss witness an awakening and euphoric response from those in their care.

Social worker Dan Cohen, seen in the documentary Alive Inside, cares for elderly people and creates personalized playlists for them in their care facilities. He does this in hopes of helping these memory-loss patients reconnect with music that they once loved, and potentially the associated memories. Cohen has witnessed patients answer questions and talk about their youth after listening to familiar music, attributing the re-emergence of these memories to the music.

Cohen’s goal is to change the standard of care at nursing facilities to include personalized music for the patients. After putting a couple hundred iPods in four facilities in New York, he saw a major increase in storytelling, communication and socialization amongst patients. People began sharing their songs with each other, inquiring about artists and related music, and creating an interwoven community of music lovers relishing in the past while enjoying the present. Cohen acknowledges that not all care facilities have the staff required or otherwise means to provide such personalized care, but the rate at which technology is progressing and becoming more accessible has driven the cost of such an endeavor down while driving the accessibility up.

The relationship between music and memory is not one that is highly disputed. Not only have all non-medical professionals experienced the sensation of music-triggered memories, but caretakers like Cohen see it firsthand in those he cares for on a daily basis. He witnessed the joy, the progress, and the excitement music triggered in his patients, and bringing that to more elderly people who suffer from memory loss and related illnesses is a small step that can yield major results.

In-Home Caregivers in Los Angeles

At Options in Home Care, we take pride in being the premier in-home caregivers in Los Angeles. We make it possible for seniors and the disabled with any health condition to continue living independently and comfortably in their own home, because a nursing home is not the only option. If someone you love is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or another memory loss illness, we at Options in Home Care are excited to include music in our arsenal of helpful, results-producing techniques to help elderly or disabled people in our care get the most out of their lives.

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