Listen to music to ease symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

Auditory memory is located in a different area of ​​the brain than other second memories, especially in the area of ​​the temporal lobe which is close to the temple and the ear.

Although this area is one of the first to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease and that under the effects of this disease many patients do not know their own name or do not recognize their next of kin (spouses, children, brothers and sisters …), it is common for people with dementia to remember songs they might have heard a long time ago if young people earlier. How is it possible that many don’t have the ability to speak, but can hum songs and get excited about them? Let’s start with the basics.

Alzheimer’s: what is it?

Alzheimer’s disease, or senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type, is a neurodegenerative disease that causes severe damage to the brain, Killing nerve cells and severing their connections to each other, resulting in irreversible impairment of cognition, behavior and generally immediate memory. However, an intervention based on music therapy can help in its treatment, even if it does not cure the disease.

It is the most common type of dementia in terms of epidemiology; it is a devastating disease, not only for the patient, but for the relatives of the patient who observe how their parent is deteriorating and how being an independent and autonomous person becomes a completely dependent being.

However, in the field in charge of processing and storing music, it seems that the impact is less than in other fields. Recent studies by neurologists conclude that, for the most part, patients with an advanced level of this disease retain their musical memories. In this way, music can help them relax and improve their mood. In this sense, music therapy is a good option to mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is the use of music in medical, educational and everyday interventions.. It can target both individuals, groups or communities in order to improve their quality of life in different aspects.

The use of music therapy is growing in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, in addition to intervention for other types of neurological disorders, such as depression, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and amnesia. One of the benefits of music therapy is that any family member or caregiver can practice at home with the patient.

How are the music therapy sessions carried out?

Therapy is done in a group, therapists previously research the patient’s musical biography, interviewing relatives and finding out what musical style is what the patient was hearing, or which song has special meaning for him, that is, which song or theme is linked to a memory which in turn represented for the patient a life experience. For example, the song he heard when he met what his future wife would be like or that melody from an old turntable that he heard as a child during summer vacation … the examples are endless.

A particular melody or song is a connection with past memories in the form of deeply rooted sensations and emotions. in our mind. This is because we are emotional beings; let’s not be fooled by the old beliefs that define the human being as a rational animal, emotions are very powerful and these precede ideas because ideas can change depending on the emotions we feel. In addition, patients can be invited to dance, so as to improve their physical condition and interact socially.

The effectiveness of music therapy

Research has focused on determining the efficacy and physiological mechanisms that produce dramatic improvement in the disease’s own symptoms. Music therapy has been shown to improve patient care and alleviate negative symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and sadness.

Research determined which areas of the brain were activated when listening to music, and then analyzed whether the aforementioned areas were impaired or, conversely, whether they were more resistant to the advancement of neural degradation caused by the disease. ‘Alzheimer’s. It was concluded that neural stimulation by music produces cognitive benefitsIn other words, it improves concentration and orientation in reality in addition to maintaining speech and verbal communication skills. On a physical level, it produces a sedative effect, and on a socio-emotional level, it increases self-esteem, improves social interactions and prevents isolation and loneliness. As we commonly say, “music is medicine for the soul”.

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