Dementia is a clinical syndrome characterized by severe deterioration or impairment of intellectual capacity (such as memory, concentration, and judgment) and personality integration, due to a number of different causes including the loss of neurons in the brain.
It is sometimes accompanied by emotional disturbance and personality changes. Many studies indicate that dementia is caused by organic damage to the brain, head injury, certain forms of metabolic disorders, or even due to the presence of a tumor.
Although pharmacological interventions are available, they have been proved to have limited ability to treat many of the features associated with dementia. Non-pharmacological treatments such as music therapy are growing more and more popular because of the wonderful positive effects they elicit from people with demented senses. Music is also enjoyable for most people, which has increased its acceptance as an alternative therapeutic tool.
Music therapy has four major benefits for those people detected with dementia. It elicits a vocal response in the form of humming. The mood of the music also gets reflected from the facial expressions of the patient because the patient perceives the feel of the music and changes his facial expression accordingly. Music also relieves stress minds and draws out the tension from the patient’s mind. Besides, it serves to improve eye contact and the patient begins to look in our direction, which is a definite improvement from the intent gaze that is so common in people suffering from dementia. Music also helps to elicit certain amount of physical movement in the patient when swaying along with the rhythm and beats of the music being played by the therapist.
Music taste of every patient is unique. When a person undergoes a music therapy session in which familiar music, of his or her liking is played, a lot of positive responses get elicited and the perceived benefits of that particular music therapy session are much greater than a session in which the therapist plays music of his choice, which the patient is unfamiliar with. Therefore, in dementia care, the music therapist usually finds out the history of the patient through several sessions of meetings and discussions with the patient’s close friends, or relatives and immediate family members. The musical taste and preferences of the patient are discovered and also the personal favorites of the patient are noted. Any significant memories or incidents associated with any particular music or song are also noted so that the therapist can remain ready for the predictable changes in the patient’s behavior when that particular music is played.