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Does Music soothe the distress -and reawaken attention- in Dementia Sufferers?

whileaway

Registered User
Dec 11, 2015
129
I want to find out if anyone plays lots of music for their carees. (I coin a word here, the phrase, "Loved One", is awful). I tender it as a suggestion for everyone to try.

I have found with my 94 year old father, that music wakes him up, it pleases, delights, moves, him, when words fall away into noise. His era is big band. He also listened to grand ol' opera, being American, and Scott Joplin,-which has a particularly wonderful effect on his mood! Also certain classical pieces, and certain Arias, like Mimi's in La Boheme.

Have others here found music to work? And then, can one get it free on the web, the old songs... Has anyone found an "oldie mp3 player" that a person who has lost touch with gadget-manipulation, can use? What about an oldie line of gadgets? What about everyone with their unhappy, wandering, carees, trying a big dose of music therapy?
 

Izzy

Volunteer Moderator
Aug 31, 2003
62,362
69
Dundee
Along with lots of others on TP I believe deeply in the importance of music in relation to dementia.

If my husband won't do something I start to sing, he joins in and then more often or not he'll get up or do whatever it was I was trying to get him to do. He loves listening to music and becomes very emotional at certain types of music. He has tears but in a good way if you know what I mean! This is most obvious when he listens to opera or a pipe band.

We are members of a choir called Total Recall. It's a choir for people with dementia and their carers. We go to weekly rehearsals and have taken part in several major concerts. Bill loves it. His dementia is quite advanced but he can still sing. It's major therapy for us both. The success of this activity is linked to the talents of our choir leader. He is an inspiration and has a real understanding of the needs of people with dementia. (He just happens to be one of Bill's carers as well!).

I know many areas have singing for the brain activities -

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=760

I think you would find the Playlist For Life site interesting -

http://www.playlistforlife.org.uk/#2839

I have created a playlist for Bill using iTunes. He can't operate the iPod himself though. He has to have it set up by myself if one of the carers.

I think you'll find this clip interesting and moving -

http://youtu.be/fyZQf0p73QM
 

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,291
SW London
When my mother's dementia was already pretty bad, so that she took no interest in anything, my sister who lives in the US, sent me a CD of her daughter's school choir. My niece has a particularly beautiful soprano, and there was one track where she sang a solo of Panis Angelicus. It was so heart-stoppingly beautiful that I had to take it to my mother in her CH, not that I expected her to be remotely interested. At that stage she no longer had a clue who this granddaughter was, or even that she had such a granddaughter.

I was amazed to find that once it was playing on the CH CD player - on a nice quiet afternoon - she was evidently listening intently, and actually remarked at the end how lovely it was.

It was one of the pieces we eventually played at her funeral last summer.

Should add that her CH radio often plays classics or golden oldies, and one of the popular games they play is musical bingo, where short sections of very well known old songs or hymns are the 'numbers'.
 

nae sporran

Volunteer Host
Oct 29, 2014
7,000
Bristol
I want to find out if anyone plays lots of music for their carees. (I coin a word here, the phrase, "Loved One", is awful). I tender it as a suggestion for everyone to try.

I have found with my 94 year old father, that music wakes him up, it pleases, delights, moves, him, when words fall away into noise. His era is big band. He also listened to grand ol' opera, being American, and Scott Joplin,-which has a particularly wonderful effect on his mood! Also certain classical pieces, and certain Arias, like Mimi's in La Boheme.

Have others here found music to work? And then, can one get it free on the web, the old songs... Has anyone found an "oldie mp3 player" that a person who has lost touch with gadget-manipulation, can use? What about an oldie line of gadgets? What about everyone with their unhappy, wandering, carees, trying a big dose of music therapy?
OH comes from a musical family and even a half decent bit of folk music reminds her of her cousin who played the accordion. Her son is a pianist and she really enjoyed his concert the other day.
I don't know too much about iplayer, but youtube is a good source as they usually suggest similar tunes or have playlists of the same artist in the corner. Sadly, the ads are a bit intrusive sometimes.
The other good source is Skyarts, I often record concerts on there and leave them on for OH when I have to go out.

OH hates the term loved ones too. Best wishes to you and your caree. :)
 

stanleypj

Registered User
Dec 8, 2011
10,708
North West
I agree entirely about the effects of music. It has got Sue and me through some very difficult times. We've found that, as time passes, she seems less aware of it but when we go to singing sessions her mood generally lifts and she sometimes mouths the odd line or two of a very familiar song. Occasionally, you can also hear a tiny bit of singing.
 
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Saffie

Registered User
Mar 26, 2011
22,514
Near Southampton
Putting on my husbands's CDs on his player in the nursing home was really the only thing left that I could do for him in the later days.
One of the male carers used to sing to him while attending to his personal care too as it kept him calm and less agitated.
I think music is of tremendous support with dementia.
 

CJinUSA

Registered User
Jan 20, 2014
1,121
eastern USA
I have used music to mixed effect. I have discovered that the big band tunes and other music from that era that my mother once loved can overstimulate her. She gets a sort of worried look. Last evening, when she continued to want to go home, I told her I would love to take her but it was cold, and I was afraid I might get lost, and then (using my laptop) I put on some videos of ocean waves, with the sound of the ocean (no music). This mesmerized her. What works for one hour doesn't work the next, however. When she finally fell asleep, I turned it off, and *that* awoke her! She had a fitful night. No delusions, but lots of agitation. I should add, though, that my mother is currently at end stage. Much earlier in the process, she loved music (almost all kinds) to be played when she wasn't watching videos of old television shows.
 

gringo

Registered User
Feb 1, 2012
1,189
UK.
I want to find out if anyone plays lots of music for their carees. (I coin a word here, the phrase, "Loved One", is awful). I tender it as a suggestion for everyone to try.
Caree? CAREE!!! Moi non plus!! My wife IS my 'loved one'.
 

stanleypj

Registered User
Dec 8, 2011
10,708
North West
I too prefer 'loved one' (if it applies) but I can understand that different people find different names appropriate. As long as we know who people are talking about, it doesn't matter two hoots really.
 

Amy in the US

Registered User
Feb 28, 2015
4,617
USA
An interesting topic, to be sure. We have tried to figure out a way for my mother to listen to music when we are not there (she is in a care home) but she's not able to work the equipment. When we are with her, she prefers to watch television and talk, or go out. Maybe we will try music in the car and see what happens.

CJ, that's interesting about the overstimulation as I see my mother sometimes now experiences this on outings. Too much background noise and too many people and she can get agitated, yet I'd prefer to take her on outings as long as possible, as she enjoys them so much.

I was at a support group/workshop once with a neurologist presenting, and someone asked about PWD (persons with dementia, which is also my term) being able to sing/remember lyrics, when they are nonverbal or don't talk much. The neurologist said that music is stored in a different part of the brain, to language and speech, and that the lyrics seem to get encoded with the music. This is my very non-technical, non-medical, layperson version of what he said, of course, but it's interesting.

We don't seem to have Singing with the Brain here in the States, or at least nothing that I've been able to find in my area. Most people I've seen mention it here, seem to have had a positive experience.
 

Spamar

Registered User
Oct 5, 2013
7,415
Suffolk
Hi,
Sorry, Stanley and Gringo, it was caree or husband for me, not much loved one after he's trying to strangle me!

Music worked well, Classic fm all day, or playlists I've made up for the iPad. I've only just managed to play in its entirety the one I made up for him, btw. To reflect his tastes, and his last 'dad dance' we sent the funeral congregation out to Dave Brubecks Take Five!

I once recorded one of the John Wilson's prom concerts, (on tv before one Christmas) but didn't play it till after Christmas. He thought it was his Christmas present and sat enraptured for the whole concert.
 

Saffie

Registered User
Mar 26, 2011
22,514
Near Southampton
Amy, why not ask the carers I the home to put your mother's player on for her?
My husband could barely move but he had a 'boom box' which I took into his nursing home and a pile of his favourite CDs.
Although the carers rarely had the time to change the disc - I did this as I went in most days - they were happy to put the player on. It was so nice for him as he spent all but 4 hours of the day in bed.
 

CJinUSA

Registered User
Jan 20, 2014
1,121
eastern USA
An interesting topic, to be sure. We have tried to figure out a way for my mother to listen to music when we are not there (she is in a care home) but she's not able to work the equipment. When we are with her, she prefers to watch television and talk, or go out. Maybe we will try music in the car and see what happens.

CJ, that's interesting about the overstimulation as I see my mother sometimes now experiences this on outings. Too much background noise and too many people and she can get agitated, yet I'd prefer to take her on outings as long as possible, as she enjoys them so much.

I was at a support group/workshop once with a neurologist presenting, and someone asked about PWD (persons with dementia, which is also my term) being able to sing/remember lyrics, when they are nonverbal or don't talk much. The neurologist said that music is stored in a different part of the brain, to language and speech, and that the lyrics seem to get encoded with the music. This is my very non-technical, non-medical, layperson version of what he said, of course, but it's interesting.

We don't seem to have Singing with the Brain here in the States, or at least nothing that I've been able to find in my area. Most people I've seen mention it here, seem to have had a positive experience.
Yes, music and song lyrics, like Bible verses once memorized (in my mother's case), go to deep memory. My mother can still recite her memorized Bible verses. so I can do this with her when I feel she is up for it.
 

tigerlady

Registered User
Nov 29, 2015
427
I recently found a site called "activities to share" and sent off for their catalogue. They have quite a few sets of CD's with different themes.
You could load them via a computer onto an ipod, which is very simple to use, and set it on a charger with speakers, and it will play indefinitely

www.activitiestoshare.co.uk