We dare you to watch this video of a son singing with his elderly father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and not feel anything. What this video shows is what researchers and elder care specialists have known for years – there is something healing about art therapy and music that can help patients coping with dementia.
Recapturing their Former Selves
The hardest part of watching a loved one suffering from dementia lose their memories is being unable to help them. Children long to hear that voice that they remember from their youth of their strong and vibrant parents. Caretakers long for ways to help their patients recapture some of what they have lost.
In an instant, the father in the video is transported to a time before dementia began to take away his memory. Remembering every word and not missing a beat, the joy exuding from both the father and the son typifies the extraordinary things that can happen to help sufferers of dementia to bring back parts of their former selves through art therapy and music.
Benefits of Art and Music Therapy
Researchers continue to learn more and more about the effects of art and music therapy on dementia patients. Already known benefits include:
- Improved Concentration
- Increased Cognition
- Greater Instances of Lucidity
- Sense of Control
- Ability to Express Themselves
- Reduced Anxiety
- And Revived Interest and Engagement
Art therapy works best in combination with music as well as other artistic forms of expression like poetry, play acting, and writing. Caregivers and loved ones also benefit from art and music therapy. It helps them to connect with their loved one and to cherish moments of clarity that would have otherwise been lost.
Methods for Making Art Therapy More Effective
If you’ve been caring for someone suffering from dementia you may be tempted to blast the music right away to see if you can spark their memory. Not so fast. If done incorrectly, you could upset dementia patients by playing music that upsets them or using the wrong type of device or raising the volume too high.
These things can have the opposite of a therapeutic effect. There is evidence that using headphones as opposed to a stereo where sound perception can be disconcerting works best. And music that they know and like is better. You also want to limit the external noises that could startle them while they are lost in the moment like slamming doors or background chatter.
Assisted Living Facilities that Incorporate Art Therapy
Not all assisted living facilities are aware of this breakthrough discovery and others have not implemented these types of programs into patient treatment. We understand the impact that art and music therapy can have on dementia patients. That’s why we incorporate art therapy into our patient care.
At Unlimited Cottages we strive to help all of our patients maintain as much independence as possible. If you would like more information on how art and music therapy can help your loved ones who are suffering from dementia, contact Unlimited Care Cottages to learn more or to schedule a tour of our memory care cottages.