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Drumming, Music and Alzheimer’s

29th Oct 2014

When we age, an onslaught of health issues may become a daily part of living. From general aches and pains to battles with illness, growing old can be a graceless experience. For those facing Alzheimer's, or those with loved ones battling Alzheimer's, the feeling of helplessness can be overwhelming. The gradual changes in personality, mood and overall wellness are devastating for the patient. Caregivers and loved ones are also affected, and finding a way to embrace the illness can be a difficult road.

Some typical Instruments Used in Therapy

Djembe

Frame Drums

Djun Djun

Shakers

Music has been found to help ease the agitation and confusion of Alzheimer's patients. As the brain and cognitive functions decline, many therapists have found that by including music in sessions, the patients respond positively. Some of this is attributed to the overall benefits of music on the brain, and neurological conditions, especially. As a mood-enhancing tool, music helps soothe and bring about peace of mind, as well as help regenerate connections in the brain. Drumming, for example, not only requires physical movement (even if just the tapping of feet to the beat) but also accesses the brain's ability to produce mood-enhancing chemicals that can ultimately soothe an agitated mind. Working together, this stimulation can help Alzheimer's patients feel better and improve overall functionality.

Rhythm for Life

Additionally, for the Alzheimer's patient, the music chosen can have a direct effect on the mood. Playing a favorite song from the past can be comforting to the person who may no longer be living in the present. These songs can help ease confusion of living in a time or place that is unfamiliar, evoke happier times and generally offer a peaceful environment for the Alzheimer's patient. Family members and caregivers can also benefit from the music, helping to establish a bond with the loved one through the experience of music.

Ultimately, the use of music with Alzheimer's patients has shown to help patients feel better through familiarity as well as the benefit of music on the brain. As studies continue to show the ability of a Djembe beat or favorite score to enhance the lives of those facing Alzheimer's, the inclusion of music in a therapeutic setting, or even during daily tasks, may be an important part of the lives of the patients.