How Music Therapy Affects Alzheimer’s Disease

Music is a universal language that is understood by all, but did you know it can also be used clinically and therapeutically for seniors?

Find out how music therapy can help seniors today!

What Are Music Therapists?

Music therapists help individuals “work through their problems in a non-verbal, musical way” (UNH)—which differs from your traditional cognitive behavioral therapy.

During a session, the music therapist may sing or play an instrument and ask the patient to join in.

There are many applications for music therapy—what one music therapist does may be different from another.

Depending on what the needs of the individual are, the therapist will determine which techniques will be best for them.

What Is Music Therapy Used For?

Music therapy has shown to treat things like depression and anxiety, and most importantly, helping seniors deal with memory issues from cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

Music therapy can also help with relieving physical pain related to labor or terminal illness.

How Does Music Therapy Work?

Did you know that music therapy has been proven that it “can affect heart rate and breathing, and promote the release of endorphins, or natural painkillers” (UNH)?

Other symptoms that music therapy alleviates are muscle tension, the release of memories or negative feelings that may have been repressed, and helping to improve communication and physical coordination.

How Music Therapy Affects Alzheimer’s Disease

As one ages, both sexes experience decreases in their sex hormone levels. These attribute to “diminished cognitive function, disturbance of memory, mind and mood, depression, and climacteric disturbance” (NIH). However, sex hormone levels are still lower for those with Alzheimer’s Disease than healthy individuals.

During music therapy sessions, the secretion of sex hormones were significantly increased for participants with Alzheimer’s.

Typically, seniors with Alzheimer’s receive hormone replacement therapies–estrogen in females and androgen in males and females.

Did you know that estrogen is especially important in protecting nerves?

It is also shown to have promising effects to suppress the increase of amyloid beta that are the main cause of plaques forming in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Therefore, estrogen replacement therapy has proved to be effective in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s in females with a deficiency.

Recent studies have shown that “music is closely associated with hormones which govern the emotion and human behavior, especially with steroid hormones including sex hormones” (NIH).

It has been also shown that listening to music has effects on testosterone and cortisol levels.

Experiments done in the NIH study has shown that “listening to music is effective in alleviating and decreasing stress”.

In order to test the hypothesis of whether music therapy was an effective treatment for those with Alzheimer’s disease, study participants with the disease were stimulated with music and monitored their sex hormones.

Before and after each session, hormone levels were recorded. Each of the participant’s behavior were also recorded a day before the session, a day of the session, and the day after the session.

Results later showed that music therapy decreased difficult behavior for those with Alzheimer’s disease and increased testosterone levels significantly after stimulus.

Where Can You Find Music Therapists?

Depending on the state that you live in, you may be able to find a music therapy association that can help.

If you live in New Jersey, you can visit the New Jersey Association for Music Therapy (NJAMT) website and inquire about practitioners in your area.

Does Your Loved One Have Alzheimer’s Disease?

Senior Home Care Services has experienced certified aides available on an hourly or live-in basis to assist your loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Speak with a member of our nationally accredited care team today through live chat or give us a call at (973) 538-4357!