CountBasieEthelWatersStageDoorCanteenEveryone can relate to the power of music. It can stir up memories and emotions and energy like nothing else. Research shows that music can have a profound impact on the elderly, particularly those suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett created an incredible documentary, Alive Inside, that explores the impact of music on the elderly community. You can watch the trailer here: or watch this clip, featuring Henry, an elderly man with Dementia who barely communicated until he was given the opportunity to listen to music from his era. It is facinating!

Seeing a family member’s mental health decline can be painful and discouraging. Sharing music can provide a new way to connect. As seen in Alive Inside, the impact can be nothing short of a miracle.

  1. Find out if your elderly relative used to play an instrument. If the instrument is still around, dust it off and have it restrung and give them a chance to play it.
  2. Ask your loved one what kind of music they like. Do they have any favorite songs from their childhood or a concert that they attended in their youth? Make them a personalized playlist and load it onto an iPod or mp3 player. If your generosity extends to strangers, one organization, Music and Memory, even accepts donations of used iPods to be used in music therapy.
  3. Ask your family member’s caregiver to incorporate this music throughout the day. Play some energizing music while getting dressed and ready for the day. Play some relaxing music to sooth your family member when it is time to get ready for bed or a nap.

We would love to hear if you have tried music therapy for your family member and what you think!