The Power of Music to Heal and Enrich the Mind

All it takes is one song to bring back 1,000 memories.

We each have a soundtrack to our lives. A few familiar notes, the first line of a song, and we are back in time with precious memories and emotions washing over us. For older people, the power of music has the priceless potential to improve mental, physical and emotional health.

There are touching videos online that show amazing examples of the way music can break through the walls of dementia. In one, an elderly man is seen hunched over in his chair. His daughter calls to him and he barely responds. Next, a caregiver places earphones on the gentleman and pushes a button to play music from the man’s past.

The transformation is remarkable. The man sits up in his chair and opens his eyes wide. His feet begin to move in response to a familiar beat. Even after the headphones are removed, the man makes eye contact and continues to engage in conversation. He is able to make a connection with the people around him.

A great deal of research is underway to help discover more information about how and why music helps improve the functioning of people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The explanations of music’s effect are interesting. More discoveries involving different parts of the brain, the foundation of neural connections, measurement of dopamine, and much more are being logged every day.

For family members, friends, and caregivers of older women and men whose personalities and abilities to connect with those they love have faded, the most important thing is – it works.
Another beautiful example of the way music can call forward the personality of a person with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia is seen in a video of an elderly blind woman. This woman appears to be completely withdrawn. A volunteer leans over and begins singing hymns she has been told will be familiar. Just like the man described earlier, this woman becomes animated and begins to sing along. Tears stream down her face as she and the volunteer sing together.

Do these changes last long-term? Research will help provide the answer. For however long the effect may last, it is precious time for the patients and the people around them. The Nurses’ Guild is always interested in new ways to help improve the lives of the wonderful people we serve. We ensure that everyone who serves our patients has access to the latest research and the ways to implement new methods.

Providing opportunities for those we care for to hear the music that could spark long forgotten memories and bring smiles and a renewed interest in life is a privilege.
There are so many other health benefits provided by music. From improving heart functioning to strengthening the immune system and decreasing depression and anxiety, music is a medicine without negative side effects. We’ll get into these areas in more detail soon. For now, let the music play.

Just as certain selections of music will nourish your physical body and your emotional layers, other musical works will bring greater health to your mind.
~Hal A. Lingerman