Art as Therapy for People with Dementia

March 17, 2020

Art therapy has many benefits for adults with dementia. Learn about a few of the most common ones here.

Art makes the world better in a variety of ways. From enjoying the beauty of a watercolor painting to using art for self-expression, creativity has many benefits. An increasing amount of research shows engaging in creative activities improves the lives of adults with dementia.

Art as Therapy for Adults with Memory Impairment

How does art benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia?

Here are a few of the many benefits the creative process provides:

  • Sense of accomplishment

People with dementia often have short-term memory loss. It makes it more difficult to stay on task and complete projects. This can leave them feeling defeated. Arts and crafts can be very empowering. That’s because it is the actual process of creating, rather than the finished project, that encourages a sense of accomplishment.

  • Reduced agitation and anxiety

Dementia often causes seniors to feel anxious or agitated. When they are participating in art projects, however, they are more likely to remain focused and engaged. Painting, drawing, or molding clay can provide an adult with memory impairment something tangible to focus on. This may help reduce anxiety and boost mood.

  • A means of self-expression

Dementia impacts different areas of the brain, but almost always affects those associated with language. It reduces a person’s verbal skills and their ability to communicate effectively.

Art therapy utilizes part of the brain different from that used for language. That means while an adult with some form of dementia may struggle with speech, having a creative outlet can offer another means for self-expression.

  • Opportunity to socialize

Depending on what stage of dementia the senior is experiencing, they may be able to participate in art classes. Some Alzheimer’s organizations and adult day centers offer workshops for people with all forms of dementia. This gives the senior an opportunity to socialize with peers.

If your local community doesn’t offer any, you could host your own. Invite family members to join you in creating art. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind if you decide to host a dementia art project:

  • Make sure the project is age-appropriate. Activities that are too childish can be demeaning to the senior.
  • Because adults with dementia may put things that look interesting in their mouth, use safe, non-toxic materials.
  • Family members can help their loved one get started by showing them how to mold clay or paint the first few strokes but should step back afterward. That allows the senior to feel more independent and empowered.
  • Provide older adults with positive feedback, not criticism.

If the event is a success, you could consider hosting it on a regular basis. Ask loved ones to help you come up with a new project for each meeting.

State-of-the-Art Memory Care at Legacy

As part of our commitment to serving older adults whose lives have been impacted by memory disorders, we are continuously exploring ways to provide our memory care residents with meaningful activity. From art therapy to music and movement, you’ll find a variety of programs designed to support success. Call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you to learn more or to schedule a private tour.

Is There a Genetic Link to Alzheimer’s Disease?

February 19, 2020

Wondering if you are at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s because a family member has the disease? Read on to learn what researchers know about Alzheimer’s.

If you are the caregiver for a senior loved one who has Alzheimer’s, you’ve likely wondered whether their diagnosis increases your own risk for developing the disease.

It’s an understandable concern given how tough it is to watch someone you love struggle with difficult symptoms, such as agitation, memory problems, and a loss of verbal skills.

Is Alzheimer’s disease tied to genetics? The question isn’t an easy one to answer with any degree of certainty. While scientists have identified some genetic involvement, it is not fully understood how heredity links us to the disease.

What Are the Genetic Ties to Alzheimer’s Disease?

Our genes carry the code that determines which of our parents’ traits we will inherit. Genes are found in each of the billions of cells that make up our bodies. We receive one gene copy from each parent. Those differences are what contribute to our uniqueness.

Let’s say, for example, that your mother is very tall and your father has brown eyes. You could inherit the trait for her height, as well as the trait for his eye color. Your sibling might inherit the opposite combination—your father’s height and your mother’s eyes.

Our genetic code can also increase our individual risk for developing certain diseases and chronic health conditions. Sickle cell anemia, Huntington’s disease, and cystic fibrosis are all linked to an inherited single gene disorder.

Unfortunately, the genetic risks associated with Alzheimer’s aren’t as straightforward. Largely because so much of the science behind this disease continues to baffle researchers.

What we do know is that there are two types of Alzheimer’s disease, early-onset Alzheimer’s and late-onset Alzheimer’s. Early-onset, also known as familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD), has a genetic link.

Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

FAD is caused by a hereditary genetic mutation to one of three genes: PSEN1, PSEN2, or APP. If your birth mother or father carries a genetic mutation on one of these three genes, you and your siblings will have a 50% chance of inheriting that mutation.

A child who inherits one of these genetic mutations will, with almost 100% certainty, develop early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. About 50% of other family members who also carry this genetic legacy will develop the disease before the age of 60.

This contrasts with the much more common form of the disease, late-onset Alzheimer’s. Late-onset occurs in adults over the age of 60. Unlike early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, there is no known genetic mutation that is linked to late-onset Alzheimer’s with such certainty.

Guarding Against Alzheimer’s Disease

While the cause of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease continues to elude researchers, it is commonly believed that lifestyle may play at least a minor role. Exercising and eating a healthy diet might help prevent or delay the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s.

Giving your brain a healthy workout on a regular basis may also lower your risk. A few ways to do that include reading, pursuing new hobbies, learning a foreign language, or taking a class.

Other research seems to indicate blood sugar may impact your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Some researchers are going as far as hypothesizing that Alzheimer’s is another form of diabetes.

Support for Seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease

If you are a caregiver struggling to manage a family member’s disease at home, we can help. Our award-winning memory care services may be the solution you are searching for on a loved one’s behalf. Call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you to learn more or to schedule a private tour.

Brain Aerobics: Activities to Help Improve Memory

January 15, 2020

Looking for ways to protect brain health and boost memory? Here are a few suggestions to explore.

Even if we don’t always comply, most of us know the doctor is right when they say daily exercise is essential. It helps with weight control, cholesterol, diabetes, and stress management.

What fewer people understand is that exercise is essential for giving the brain a daily workout. Like the muscles in our body, the brain needs exercise to stay strong. According to dementia experts, exercise might also help delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Tips for Exercising Your Brain

When it comes to building strong muscles and core strength, repetition is often the key. For your brain, however, the opposite is true. To avoid cognitive loss, the brain needs the stimulation of novelty. Learning and growing aids in warding off decline.

The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation says that learning is like aerobics for the brain. In fact, it might decrease your risk for developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 70%!

What does a workout for the brain entail?

We have some suggestions for you to consider.

  • Learn a new language: Mastering another language challenges the brain. Combining language lessons with researching the country’s culture is even better. You can sign up for a class at a local community college or utilize an online platform like Babbel or Rosetta Stone.
  • Start a band: Music provides a variety of health benefits, including protecting brain health. If you already play an instrument, recruit a few musical friends to form your own band. If you are new to music, sign up for a class to learn how to play an instrument. Fortunately, you don’t have to be good at it for your brain to enjoy a good workout. It’s the process of learning that promotes a healthier brain.
  • Read: Reading is another great way to keep your brain challenged as you age. It’s an inexpensive activity you can enjoy anywhere. Your local library likely has an app you can download on your tablet to make it easy to borrow books.
  • Write: Writing can also give your brain a healthy workout. If you’ve never been a writer, begin with a simple project. For example, write about your day in a journal, or record your family history to share at your next reunion. To help them get started writing, some people create a list of questions to answer. These writing prompts might also make it a little easier to tap in to your creativity.
  • Get moving: Physical activity is good for your body, mind, and spirit, especially if you continuously mix things up. Go for a walk or a bike ride every day, but vary your route. Swim at the local YMCA and use different strokes and water exercises.
  • Play games: Whether it’s a few rounds of solitaire on your tablet or a Scrabble competition with friends, playing cards and games stimulates the brain. Those that require memory and strategy skills are even better.

Dementia Care for Seniors

At Legacy Senior Living communities, we offer specialized care for adults with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Our memory care centers—known as The Harbor—are a refuge from the storms caused by the disease.

If you have questions about The Harbor or would like to schedule a tour, please call the community nearest you. One of our experienced dementia caregivers will be glad to help!

Helping a Senior with Dementia Overcome Sleep Problems

December 30, 2019

If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, sleep issues might be adding to the challenge of the role. These tips can help you both sleep better.

If you talk with a spouse or adult child who is caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, there’s no doubt they’ll list sleep as one of their greatest caregiving challenges. People with the disease can seem to survive on very little sleep for extended periods of time. This may result in a pace that is exhausting for caregivers.

While pharmacological sleep solutions are available, most are used only as a last resort. Because seniors with Alzheimer’s react differently to medication than their peers without dementia, physicians are sometimes reluctant to prescribe them.

Fortunately, there are steps loved ones can take that may help overcome sleep disorders caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Helping a Senior with Alzheimer’s Sleep Well

First, take time to learn more about what might be causing a senior’s sleep problems. Researchers have a few ideas on why sleep can be so elusive for people with Alzheimer’s. Some of these reasons are:

  • Overstimulation: Because Alzheimer’s causes damage to the brain, people who have the disease may struggle to process overly hectic or noisy surroundings. Overstimulation, especially in the late afternoon or evening, might be the reason a senior with Alzheimer’s is having difficulty getting to sleep.
  • Sundowner’s Syndrome: Sundowning is common among adults with Alzheimer’s. As many as 20 percent of people with the disease will experience it. The condition causes restlessness and increased confusion as the sun begins to set. People with Alzheimer’s who are affected by sundowning are more likely to wander during this time of day. It can wreak havoc on a senior’s (and their caregiver’s!) sleep schedule.
  • Increased agitation and anxiety: People who have Alzheimer’s typically experience increased levels of agitation and anxiety. Researchers attribute this to changes in the brain caused by the disease. These heightened emotions can make it difficult to unwind and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
  • Problems with sleep-wake cycles: Research also seems to indicate that adults who have Alzheimer’s undergo changes in their sleep-wake cycle. In the early stages of the disease, a senior may wake up frequently throughout the night. They might get up and wander. As the disease progresses, they may get their days and nights mixed up, causing them to sleep soundly all day and be awake all night long.
  • Medication problems: Like anyone else, people with Alzheimer’s might be taking medications that lead to sleep problems. Anti-depressants and steroids can cause insomnia in some people. Decongestants can cause drowsiness that might disrupt traditional sleep schedules.

Then move on to understanding what interventions you can take to help your loved one—and yourself—get a good night of sleep.

10 Ways to Help a Senior with Alzheimer’s Sleep

Here are 10 steps you can take to help your senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease overcome sleep problems:

  1. Have a structured daily schedule that restricts stimulating activities to early morning hours.
  2. Review the senior’s prescription and over-the-counter medication list with their physician or pharmacist to identify potential side effects or interactions.
  3. Schedule a physical examination with their primary care physician to see if there is an undiagnosed health problem that might be causing pain.
  4. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants that might make sleep difficult.
  5. Limit fluid intake during evening hours so the senior doesn’t wake up during the night needing the bathroom.
  6. Turn off the television in the evening and play soft, soothing music before bedtime to help the senior unwind.
  7. Stick with a consistent bedtime and morning wake-up time.
  8. Discourage naps late in the day or early in the evening.
  9. Exercise early every morning to avoid overstimulation at night.
  10. Create a restful sleep environment for the senior that includes blackout curtains, a comfortable mattress, a cool temperature, and soft music playing with a sleep timer.

Legacy Memory Care

If you are struggling to keep a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s healthy and safe at home, it might be time to consider a move to a memory care community. At Legacy communities, our memory care program is known as The Harbor. It’s designed to be a refuge from the storms associated with memory disorders.

Call us today to schedule a private tour of The Harbor memory care program nearest you.

Raising Awareness during National Alzheimer’s Month

November 1, 2019

November is National Alzheimer’s Month. Here are a few ways you can help raise awareness about this difficult disease.

When a senior loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the whole family feels the impact. From wanting to feel connected to needing assistance with personal care, your loved one will eventually require round-the-clock support.

The emotional side of watching a loved one’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being decline can be devastating. The disease often leaves friends and family members feeling helpless. Some find empowerment as advocates in the search for treatment and a cure for Alzheimer’s.

November is National Alzheimer’s Month. It is the perfect time for families to raise awareness about a disease that 5.8 million Americans are living with.

Advocating for Seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease

If you and your family want to become Alzheimer’s advocates, we have a few ideas for you to consider:

1. Raise awareness:

There is an overall lack of awareness about what Alzheimer’s disease is and how it impacts families. You can help change that by sharing your knowledge and experience. Post updates on your social media channels. Write a “Letter to the Editor” for your community’s newspaper. Recruit friends to form a team for your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

2. Contact legislators:

Grassroots advocacy can impact legislation at both the state and federal levels. By signing up for Action Alerts, you may be able to influence your elected officials. You might ask for their vote on a funding program or with laws related to health care. Alzheimer’s organizations will contact you for help making phone calls or sending emails about important, time-sensitive advocacy issues.

3. Participate in a clinical trial:

It’s a myth that clinical trials only seek people with Alzheimer’s disease. Many trials look for healthy participants, too. If your schedule permits, call your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to learn about trials happening near you.

4. Donate and raise money:

If you are able, donating to an Alzheimer’s organization is another way to advocate. The Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America help fund research, professional caregiver training, family resources, and more.

Even small things, like wearing a purple ribbon during November, can start a conversation about Alzheimer’s that educates people.

Memory Care for Adults with Dementia

If you or someone in your family is feeling overwhelmed by their role as an Alzheimer’s caregiver, it may be time to consider a move to a memory care community. Memory care programs are designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s or a similar form of dementia live their best life despite the disease.

At Legacy Senior Living, our highly regarded memory care is known as The Harbor. These programs are designed to be a refuge from the storms associated with memory disorders. We invite you to call the Legacy community nearest you to learn more about memory care.

What to Do If You Are Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

October 7, 2019

If you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you might be overwhelmed. These tips can help you figure out what to do next.

After Alzheimer's diagnosis

Hearing the news that the forgetfulness you’ve been struggling with is Alzheimer’s disease is tough to comprehend. It’s common to worry about your future, and how your new diagnosis will impact the people you love. If this is the situation you find yourself in, we have a few suggestions we hope will help you cope.

Preparing for Life with Alzheimer’s Disease

1. Give yourself time to process the news

If you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s easy to assume that living a quality life isn’t possible. Seniors who hear this news often think they’ll need to immediately move to a memory care community. Unless your physician has made that recommendation, give yourself and your loved ones time to come to terms with this diagnosis.

Talk to a counselor or join a support group for adults living with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association in your area can connect you with both of these resources. It will likely benefit your family members if they join an in-person or online support group, too. ALZConnected has information and forums for both the senior who has the disease and the family members who love them.

2. Adopt a healthy lifestyle

While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, research shows lifestyle choices may slow the progression of the disease. A healthy diet, exercise, and sleep are vital.

The Mediterranean Diet is one that is often recommended. It is based on menus that are heavy in fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and whole grains, and light on dairy and red meat. Researchers believe the heart-healthy benefits of this diet help to protect the brain.

It may also be beneficial to find fitness activities that lower stress. Swimming, biking, walking, and chair yoga are a few to try.

3. Talk with an attorney

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to meet with an attorney and discuss what legal documents you’ll need to have in place. A legal professional can help to determine what you need, such as a will, a power of attorney, or a trust. These documents will ensure that your voice is heard when it comes time for family members to make decisions on your behalf.

An elder law attorney might be especially helpful. You can find one by searching the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys database.

4. Get to know local dementia care options

It will probably give you and your family members peace of mind to know there are a wide range of Alzheimer’s care options. From home care agencies that provide assistance with grocery shopping, menu planning, personal care, and light housekeeping to dedicated memory care communities—the choices are abundant.

You might find it easier to have a trusted loved one explore these options with you or possibly on your behalf. It’s usually better to do this before you actually need to utilize any of these services.

Memory Care Services at Legacy Senior Living

At Legacy Senior Living, our nationally acclaimed memory care programs are known as The Harbor. We strive to make them a peaceful, secure refuge from the challenges associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. We encourage you or your loved ones to call the nearest community to learn more.

Coping with Repetitive Questions When a Senior Has Memory Loss

September 16, 2019

Repetitive behaviors, such as asking the same question over and over, are common when a senior has Alzheimer’s. The damage the disease causes to their short-term memory makes it tough for them to learn, retain, and recall new information. This means a senior may struggle to remember the answer to a question they have already asked, even if it was only moments ago.

While most Alzheimer’s caregivers understand their loved one can’t help this behavior, it’s nonetheless stressful and frustrating. Finding ways to manage it is important.

Repetitive Questions from Alzheimer's Patients

4 Ways for Alzheimer’s Caregivers to Manage Repetitive Questions

  1. Identify potential triggers.

In some cases, there is a reason a loved one with Alzheimer’s is repeatedly asking the same question. Trying to figure out what is triggering the question can help you find a way to address it. It may be something in their environment that is the culprit.

For example, a photo of a grandchild might be causing the senior to wonder where they are. Even though you answer that they are away at work or college, the older adult can’t retain that information. It may be easier to remove the photo from the room until the senior moves on to engage in a different activity and forgets about the question and photo.

1. Redirecting their attention.

Family caregivers also say redirecting their loved one’s attention can help to reduce repetitive questions. This involves giving a senior with Alzheimer’s something new to focus on. The goal is to distract them from whatever it is that they are preoccupied with.

For example, if a loved one with Alzheimer’s is repeating the same question, answer it and then quickly redirect their attention to something new. A chore or task like folding clothes or helping dry dishes might help them to refocus.

2. Provide opportunities for meaningful activity.

In some instances, repetitive questions are the result of an older adult being bored, anxious, or agitated. Repetition is their way of alleviating that discomfort. By providing the seniors with meaningful activities, a caregiver may be able to help them find peace.

Here are several meaningful activities that an adult with Alzheimer’s can do:

  • Look through family photo albums
  • Fold a basket full of clean towels
  • Sort of a deck of playing cards by color or number
  • Dust non-breakable objects around the home
  • Arrange flowers in a plastic vase

3. Take caregiving breaks.

Caregiving for an adult with Alzheimer’s is mentally and physically exhausting. It’s vital that you take frequent breaks so you can continue to provide good care. If you don’t have another friend or family member available to assist with caregiving duties, respite care might be a solution.

Short-term respite care at an assisted living community is designed to give caregivers a break. The older adult can stay in the community for a few days or weeks while the caregiver has time to restore their sense of well-being.

Memory Care at Legacy Senior Living

The around-the-clock demands associated with keeping a senior with Alzheimer’s safe can take a toll on a caregiver’s health. Despite your best efforts, the day might come when managing a loved one’s care at home is too much. That’s where a quality memory care program, like those at Legacy Senior Living communities, can be an ideal solution. Call us today at 423-478-8071 to learn more!

Understand and Manage Agitation in a Senior with Alzheimer’s

August 26, 2019

It is common among seniors with Alzheimer’s disease. Use these suggestions to help manage agitation.

One of the most common challenges family caregivers face when a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease is managing agitation. The behavior can negatively impact their quality of life as well as that of the family. It is often cited as a reason why families begin to explore memory care communities for their loved one.

In order to prevent agitation, or take steps to minimize it, Dementia care experts say caregivers must first understand the possible causes.

Potential Triggers of Agitation in a Senior with Alzheimer’s

  1. Disease-related changes in the brain

Alzheimer’s disease and similar forms of dementia can cause damage to the frontal lobe of the brain. This is the area that controls functions such as motivation, planning, self-control, and sequencing. When this area of the brain is damaged, it can be difficult for people to manage their reactions and understand consequences. The senior probably doesn’t realize their behavior is aggressive and intimidating.

  1. Undiagnosed pain or discomfort

A person with Alzheimer’s disease often loses their verbal communication skills. This makes it difficult for them to express their feelings or explain that they are in pain. As a result, when the older adult feels pain, fatigue, hunger, or sorrow, they may act out in frustration.

When your family member seems agitated or aggressive, try to identify the root cause. Ask if they are hungry, tired, or thirsty. Show them to the bathroom and see if they need to use it. It may also help to point to different areas of the body and ask them if it hurts.

  1. Overstimulation

Another outcome of the physical damage caused to the brain is difficulty processing too many things at one time. As a result, persons with Alzheimer’s can be easily overwhelmed. Noisy, hectic environments may be especially difficult to handle.

Because the adult may have difficulty managing multiple demands, they might become anxious, agitated, or aggressive. By controlling the environment, a caregiver may be able to help their loved one avoid becoming overstimulated.

  1. Confusion

Sometimes a person with Alzheimer’s disease will become anxious or agitated when they don’t understand what is happening around them. They may not understand why they need to get in the car or who the person in their home is. Irritability or agitation may be the result.

Family members may be successful in reducing some of this confusion by explaining who people are, even if they are someone the senior has known for years, or why they are being asked to do something.

Understanding Sundowners Syndrome

Another cause of agitation is actually a combination of symptoms that appear as the sun begins to make its descent. Sundowners Syndrome, also known as Sundowning, causes anxiety, agitation, and aggression.

Although caregivers may not be able to prevent Sundowning entirely, here are suggestions on how to better manage it:

  • Having a structured daily routine
  • Limiting caffeine intake
  • Reducing stimulation in the home, especially late in the day
  • Pulling the blinds and turning on the lights as the sun starts to set
  • Playing soothing music during the hours sundowning typically occurs

Compassionate Memory Care

If you are struggling to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s at home, we can help. Our nationally recognized memory care program in some of our communities, known as The Harbor, is thoughtfully designed to meet the unique needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Contact Legacy Senior Living online to learn more!

How to Talk with Kids about Alzheimer’s Disease

July 15, 2019

Talk with Kids about Alzheimer's Disease

It can be tough to talk with kids about Alzheimer’s disease. If an elder in your family has been diagnosed with the disease, these five tips can help you discuss it with kids.

If a family elder has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you are probably grappling with a variety of unique challenges. The disease can present different struggles at every stage. One challenge that families often encounter early on is how to discuss the disease with young children and teens.

Alzheimer’s is a complex disease that can be difficult to explain and understand, especially for younger family members. We created this tip sheet to share a few age-appropriate ideas and resources to make it easier to have this discussion with kids.

5 Tips to Help You Talk with Kids about Alzheimer’s Disease

Kids may have an especially difficult time understanding Alzheimer’s because of the unpredictability of the disease. For example, a grandparent may remember the grandchild’s name and who they are on one visit, but not the next.

These tips can help you explain Alzheimer’s disease to the kids in your family:

  1. Explain the medical condition: Begin by explaining that the family elder has developed an illness that makes it tough for them to remember things. Emphasize that the senior will have good days and bad days. On bad days, they may act a little different than usual and not be able to remember the children or teens’ names.
  2. No one is at fault: Be sure you take time to reassure children that they haven’t done anything wrong, especially on days when the senior is struggling most. Explain that the changes are all part of the illness.
  3. Not contagious: As the senior’s disease progresses and the children witness changes, it’s important for them to know that the disease isn’t contagious. They can’t catch it like they would a cold or the flu. Also, reassure them that you won’t catch it from caring for the senior either. That may help keep them from worrying that one of you will develop Alzheimer’s, too.
  4. Create an activities list: Before you sit down to talk with the children in your family about Alzheimer’s disease, take a few minutes to create a list of activities the kids and their family elder can still enjoy together. From crafts to art projects and music, people with Alzheimer’s can stay engaged with life.
  5. Learn from other kids: The Alzheimer’s Association developed several video series you can share with the children in your family to help them better understand the disease. Kids Look at Alzheimer’s and Teens Look at Alzheimer’s are especially meaningful because both are produced by kids for kids.

Legacy Senior Living

Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia can be difficult for families to safely manage at home. Wandering, agitation, and aggression are tough behaviors to cope with for those unfamiliar with disease management.

Families often discover that memory care programs are not only the safest solution for a senior, but one that allows a loved one to live their best quality of life. We invite you to call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest you to learn more about memory care options and to schedule a private tour today!

How Music Is Therapeutic for People with Dementia

June 24, 2019

How Music Is Therapeutic for People with Dementia

Learn how you can use music as therapy to improve the quality of life for a loved one with dementia

If you have ever listened to a song that sparked a happy memory from the past, you have witnessed firsthand the powerful impact that music can have on the brain. Researchers exploring the idea of music as therapy have found it to be a powerful tool. This is particularly true for those who are struggling with a health condition like Alzheimer’s disease.

Music, Memory, and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, causes damage to the parts of the brain that are responsible for episodic memory. These are the memories related to specific life events.

Music, however, is learned and remembered differently. Instead of relying on episodic memory, music relies on an association of routines and repetitive activities. The brain stores them using procedural memory, which requires little mental processing.

Memories that are connected to music remain relatively untouched, even in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. That’s why music can act as a conduit to happy memories among people with various types of dementia.

3 Tips for Using Music As Therapy

Dr. Jonathon Graff-Radford of the Mayo Clinic says caregivers should consider using these three tips when using music therapy with a family member who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar type of dementia:

  1. Choose music familiar to your loved one

It might take a little trial and error to determine which musical artists and songs connect with your loved one. Be patient and keep trying.

  • Find music that was popular during your loved one’s youth or young adulthood. It can help evoke memories of happier times in their life.
  • Ask family and friends for suggestions, especially those who grew up with the senior.
  • Pay close attention to the way your loved one reacts to the music. Reminiscing can sometimes be painful, too. If a song appears to be causing your loved one distress, change the music and make note of it so you don’t play it again.
  1. Match desired outcome with the choice of music

Think about what you are trying to accomplish with your choice of music. For example, are you trying to calm a loved one’s agitation? That’s a fairly common struggle for adults with dementia, and one music can often help overcome.

  • Soothing music can promote a sense of calm during mealtimes, personal care times, and right before bedtime.
  • When you are trying to encourage a senior with Alzheimer’s to exercise or do something physical, turn on upbeat music. Just be observant to make sure it isn’t causing agitation.
  • If your loved one is feeling down, a sing-along might lift their spirits. Music from their high school or college days might be especially helpful.
  1. Avoid overstimulation

Make sure the music isn’t competing with other activities or noises in the house. For an adult with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, it can be difficult to process a hectic environment.

  • Turn off the television and close exterior doors and windows if it is noisy outside.
  • Monitor the volume of the music and take any hearing loss into consideration.
  • Select a music channel that is commercial-free or create your own play list.

These tips can help you use music’s healing harmonies to improve the quality of life for a loved one with dementia.

Creating Purposeful Days for Adults with Dementia

At Legacy Senior Living communities, we are dedicated to helping adults with dementia live with purpose. We invite you to join us for a personal tour to learn more. Call the community nearest you to schedule a time.