Need Assistance? Call Us Today! P: 215-233-6107 | F: 215-233-6109

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • Youtube

Dementia and Alzheimer’s: How Music Can Help

Dementia and Alzheimer's: How Music Can Help

Music is a powerful tool for use in therapy and rehabilitation. Music has been shown to improve mood, increase relaxation and reduce stress.

Music therapy can be used with individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by providing a safe environment where they can feel comfortable and relaxed while listening to music they like.

Although music has been used to treat emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, stress, and grief, it has been found that there is no scientific evidence that it works as well as other treatment options.

However, according to the National Library of Medicine, music interventions have become a popular non-pharmacological therapy for treating behavioral and cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Music therapy is a type of complementary therapy that uses music to treat symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. With increased research into its benefits for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, music therapy is becoming increasingly popular.

Music therapy is particularly beneficial for patients who have trouble communicating verbally or who experience difficulty expressing themselves emotionally. Additionally, it can help patients relax and cope with their symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, such as agitation or wandering away from the bedside.

The music used by the therapist for the patient with Alzheimer’s or dementia disease should be chosen to reflect the condition of the patient. The music chosen by the therapist can be instrumental, soothing, or upbeat. The type of music is most likely to be selected based on what mood they want to create in the patient.


The instrumental type of music is usually chosen because it is relaxing and calming. The patient will feel a sense of peace and calm when listening to this type of music. It helps them relax and fall asleep more easily as well as helps them sleep more soundly at night. Instrumental music also helps with anxiety and stress levels because it has a more positive tone than other types of music.


Soothing music is also great for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia disease because it helps them relax their minds from thinking about other things that are going on around them so that they can focus on what the therapist is telling them about their illness or treatment plan for their condition. This type of music also helps ease some of their physical pain by reducing it through meditation techniques such as guided imagery or hypnosis (Henderson).


Uptempo music has an upbeat tempo and is usually played loudly enough so that it can be heard throughout the entire treatment area, but not so loud that it causes others around them to become irritated or anxious if they are trying to sleep or relax during their therapy session with you! Uptempo music is typically upbeat and fast-paced. It can help patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia disease pay attention better than instrumental.

Music can be a powerful tool in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, but it must be used correctly and appropriately. Sometimes music is used to help patients relax and focus on their therapy. Other times, music is used to distract or entertain the patient.

Instruments and vocals are the most common types of musical melodies used in dementia therapy. Instruments may include guitar, piano, violin, clarinet, or saxophone. Vocal music includes songs such as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” or “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The selection of instrumental and vocal music should be based on the patient’s ability to hear and understand it and his/her comfort with the medium of music.

Usually, music therapy for people with dementia involves listening to recorded or live music, but not participating in it.

In patients with dementia, individualized music therapy is effective. Clinical practice is limited by the significant costs associated with one-to-one music therapy for dementia patients.

  • Ambient music. Using ambient music to modify clinical environments can be cost-effective since it is played via a sound system. It has been shown to benefit patients in various clinical settings in previous studies. It can be used for outpatient procedures, geriatric care settings, and postoperative recovery.
  • Patient-preferred music. Choosing a patient’s preferred song from a selection of music presented to them poses a problem. It would be logistically challenging to allow patients in dementia units to choose their music or to agree upon any particular music.
  • Reminiscence-based music. In people with dementia, this therapy is effective in treating depressive symptoms. Familiar music is better received by patients than unfamiliar music. At an early stage in the development of dementia, it may be beneficial to look for the patient’s musical preferences and store them for later reminiscence therapy.

Music therapy has been shown to improve many areas of functioning including:

  1. Memory enhancement
  2. Cognitive improvement
  3. Pain management
  4. Stress management
  5. Sleep Quality
  6. Attention span and focus
  7. Positive mood
  8. Decreased depression symptoms
  9. Reduction of anxiety and agitation

Whether you’re an individual battling dementia/Alzheimer’s or a friend, parent, or relative of someone doing so, you probably know how difficult—and important—it is to keep them engaged in activities that will ease their mind and possibly help to improve their symptoms. Music therapy is one such potential avenue, and the more that people understand how it works and how to use it (as well as how it may not work for some individuals), the more likely they will be able to implement it effectively.

This entry was posted in Seniors Health and Wellness. Bookmark the permalink.
two lovely smiling women