Early intervention is key to slowing the progression of symptoms in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. It’s critical that both those potentially struggling with these conditions and their loved ones be familiar with the early warning signs.
Additionally, when an individual is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, their loved ones must ensure they’re receiving effective memory care from qualified professionals. For example, if it’s clear an aging family member’s memory is deteriorating, it’s wise to move them into an assisted living facility instead of allowing them to continue living in their own home.
Even those who are willing to let aging family members live with them should still consider moving them to an assisted living facility instead. The staff at a reputable facility offering memory care will be more qualified to ensure a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia receives the attention they need.
That’s not to say that family members can’t help them in other ways. There are numerous steps one can take to assist a loved one with memory troubles.
For example, a recent study indicates that playing music or singing can improve symptoms in patients facing the early stages of Alzheimer’s. It can also boost their mood. This is important, as research consistently shows depression and anxiety worsen Alzheimer’s symptoms and speed up the illness’s progression.
Jennie Dorris, a rehabilitation scientist at the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of the study, points out that these findings regarding the impact playing music can have are encouraging for several reasons. Naturally, it’s always a positive development when effective means of helping those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and similar cognitive issues are identified.
These particular findings are also valuable because, as Dorris points out, “Participating in music, like singing in a choir or playing in a drum circle, is a safe, engaging activity. Our research demonstrates it can support cognition at a critical time for older adults facing cognitive decline.”
Some activities that could potentially help those with Alzheimer’s or dementia manage their symptoms are unfortunately not safe for them to participate in. For example, research has shown that spending time out in nature can yield mood-boosting effects that would theoretically benefit someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
However, hiking up a mountain or walking through the woods aren’t safe activities for such individuals. Their cognitive difficulties would likely prevent them from navigating properly. Additionally, patients with Alzheimer’s tend to be elderly. Even if someone younger accompanied them on a hike, the strenuous physical activity could be too great for their aging body, putting them at significant risk of injury.
That’s not the case with an activity like playing music. It’s also worth noting that playing music can potentially be a social activity. This is ideal, as researchers have also found that maintaining social connections is key to slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms.
Dorris and her team also point out that playing music can indirectly benefit the caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s. By slowing the illness’s progression, playing music can simply make the job of caring for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient much easier.
Again, none of this is to suggest that playing music is a substitute for professional care and treatment. It’s still critical that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients be attended to by trained professionals. However, this research clearly indicates playing music is an effective way virtually anyone can offer additional help to someone with this condition.