On the ABC program, Catalyst there was a segment on ‘Music on the Brain’. It was a richly informative 30 minutes and is definitely worth watching by every Australian – young and old.
If you missed Catalyst on the television, please, please, please, do yourself a huge favour and watch it here. You will not regret this wise use of 30 minutes.
What is the benefit of every Australian watching this video?
1. You will appreciate the amazing abilities of our brain and understand the effects of music on the brain;
2. People living with dementia are not “gone”, “lost”, “a shell”, “not there”, “doesn’t know me” and other hollow descriptions. Instead we start realising how human and present the person living with dementia is, right up to the end of their life. We begin to understand that it is our responsibility to use our undamaged brains and our human-creativity to try harder to relate to our loved one with dementia. We understand how to communicate in an effective way that achieves meaningful connections and that honours their humanity.
I love the expression that music is a “side door into the brain”
Music that the elder knows and enjoys allows connection, and access to memories bypassing the damaged part of their brain (typically the hippocampus where short term memory or ‘working memory’ is transformed into medium and longer term memory). Music is a side door into those long held memories because music uses so many different parts of the brain, including parts of the brain that are not damaged by dementia, and so it is never forgotten. Their favourite music has often been played and replayed, therefore it is etched into or stored in the brain.
Daughterly Care has specialised in providing dementia care for 21 years and our 24hr Nurses and Hourly Caregivers and Live in Carers have been using music to connect with our elderly clients and their memories, as well as their emotions. Music memory has even enabled easier movement for older people with Parkinson’s therefore, reducing pain.
Catalyst reported on a number of different research projects investigating how the brain works and what effect music has on the brain of someone living with dementia, Parkinson’s disease or acquired brain injury – and the evidence based research is astounding.
Catalyst shows how music can positively affect human bonding, how it releases the feel good hormone oxytocin and how important it was in the evolution of human beings.
Registered Nurse, Verlie Hall – Daughterly Care’s Managing Director has provided dementia care for elders for 25 years and says “it’s great to see the science behind the power of music on the brain being brought to the attention of the public by shows like Catalyst. This enables family members to understand the power of music and use it more with their parent or grandparent. Nurses and professional Caregivers have used the power of music when caring for people diagnosed with dementia for decades”.
Ms Hall added “at Daughterly Care we are very fortunate to care for and enable people in their own homes where most elders prefer to live. Of course, they are able to experience the great benefit of remaining in their home that has visual cues of their life and loves surrounding them. These monumental items can be their family photos, their favourite music, their travel photograph albums, their family holidays; not to mention their interests and passions. So our Hourly Caregivers and Live in Carers can and do easily use their personal items, their personal history and their personal music to connect with our elderly clients”.
By contrast, Ms Hall believes “the great tragedy for people with dementia when placing them into a nursing home is that they are taken away from their familiar environment. They are taken away from their favourite music and their life history. Visual cues of what makes that person “who they are” rarely move with them into the nursing home. So in a nursing home it is more difficult to find out what their personalised music taste is and obtain copies of the music to load onto their own iPod then ensure it is used regularly. It is wonderful to see that starting to happen in a small number of nursing homes and there is no doubt society will look back, and say how did we ever not provide that level of care before?”
Ms Hall says “Daughterly Care is very proud to be the first community in-home aged care provider in Sydney to be accredited with the Music and Memory Program by the Arts and Health Institute. The Music & Memory Program is based on extensive neuroscience research. The results are commonly nothing short of miraculous. We see the personalised music on a client’s own iPod being beneficial for our private care clients who now live in a nursing home, as it is for our in home care clients living at home.
Daughterly Care’s life-changing benefits of using personalised music to connect to elders with dementia
- A proven way to give joy to an elderly living with advanced dementia
- Offers a fulfilling activity for a person who has reduced mobility or is bed-bound
- Reduces agitation and sun-downing
- Enhances engagement and socialisation, which results in an increased quality of life for the person, family and friends.
- Is a valuable tool to help reduce the need for anti-anxiety medications
What surprises (even experienced) Nurses and Assistants in Nursing in the nursing home environment is that after the elder with dementia has listened to their music they often continue to talk about their memories and their feelings. That is a great relief for most and they commonly say things like “I feel love, I feel love”. Or as Jonica Newby said on Catalyst, “Well that’s a happy day”.
UPDATE: Further confirmation of the effects of music as therapy is found in this ABC RN article, which reports on research at the Queensland Brain Institute and Macquarie University into the effects of music & memory, and the positive emotional effects of music and rhythm. Music therapists also discuss various techniques that show how music can delay the onset of dementia and how it works in neuro-rehabilitation treatments.
If you would like your loved one to become a client of Daughterly Care and join our Joyful Singers group call us on (02) 9970 7333.
Kylie Lambert B.Ec F Fin
(known to her friends for 25 years as Kate)
Daughterly Care CEO, Co-Founder/Owner
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