Dementia can be truly destructive, not only taking a toll on patients but also family members and loved ones. The pain of watching someone you love slowly slip away and lose control of their memories is a painful experience.
While a cure is a long way away, much has been done to further the treatment and management of dementia. This has had a profound impact on the quality of life for patients and allows family members and loved ones to still connect with them on an emotional level.
Music therapy and art therapy have shown promise in helping to improve a dementia patient's quality of life. It helps patients with their thinking, cognition, management of emotions, and can be a fun and creative way for patients and their families to connect.
Today we'll discuss dementia and how these therapies help those suffering from this awful illness. If you are someone who is affected by Alzheimer’s, either as a patient or a loved one, we hope this article will help guide you and seek out professional help.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia refers to a range of disorders and symptoms that slowly deteriorate thinking ability, cognition, emotional management, and ability to manage everyday tasks. In Canada, almost 600,000 people were living with dementia in 2020, and that number is expected to reach 1 million by 2030.
With time, dementia symptoms worsen until the point where patients are no longer able to perform even the simplest tasks without breaking down mentally and emotionally. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but there is medication that can help slow down the progression of the disease.
There are also many therapies, both under contemporary medicine, psychology, and alternative forms of medicine. Two therapies that have shown promise are art therapy and music therapy.
Music And Art Therapy Explained
Music therapy uses music to stimulate the minds of dementia patients. They can listen, play, or sing songs, and even dance to different tunes.
This makes for a great way for patients and their loved ones to connect, while reducing stress and improving mood, something countless studies have shown music to do. Some therapists will also use music to help patients stay in touch with their memories or compose music to keep their minds engaged and sharp.
Similarly, art therapy allows patients to express themselves with drawings, paintings, or other expressive art forms. Creative expression has always been known to be cathartic, and such activities allow patients to exercise their motor and visual skills, something that is severely affected by dementia.
Both therapies, because of the inherent benefits of music, art, and some professional therapeutic direction, are shown to have a positive impact on thinking, management of emotions, and quality of life.
Another plus point is that you don't need to have any experience in music or art to benefit from these therapies. Also, you're not limited to being treated in a hospital; you can have sessions in homes, nursing homes, small clinics, or anywhere where you feel comfortable.
How Does Art Therapy Complement Music Therapy In Dementia Care?
First and foremost, both these therapies have a positive impact on memory and emotion. Familiar music can stimulate the cognitive elements behind memory, making it easier for patients to remember details from the period they had first heard the song.
It will start by reminding them how the music made them feel and what emotions it aroused. Attached memories can then come back to patients, giving them a sense of sweet nostalgia.
Music generally does help with memory, with many studies showing a positive correlation. One study showed classical music to have the most profound impact.
Art can also be an effective outlet, allowing patients to express memories, or snippets of them, in their art.
Art and music therapy have also been shown to have a positive impact on behavior. One of the most common symptoms of dementia is agitation, which can sometimes even end in rage. Music and art therapy have a calming effect which helps to reduce agitation. Many patients' families have shared accounts where turning on an old familiar song would immediately and drastically improve behavior.
Art and music therapy can also play a big role in mood regulation which is important since many people with dementia suffer from mood swings. Many experts argue that these therapies can go even further and help dementia patients manage their overall emotions in a much better way, to the point where medication may not be required in high doses as they are usually administered
Another symptom where art and music therapy have helped is language and communication deterioration. Dementia patients often find their language skills compromised, with severe cases heavily affecting communication in general.
Therapists argue that music and art can be used as a form of expression for patients. It may not be as effective as actual speaking and communication, but having some form of expression is bound to do wonders for those suffering from dementia.
Helping Seniors Cope With Dementia Through Art & Music Therapy!
Many experts and personal accounts from patients will testify to the positive impact of art and music therapy for dementia treatment and symptom management.
However, many argue that more studies are needed to prove just how effective these treatments might be. That being said, it might sound cheesy and corny, but adding a bit of music and color into one's life can do a lot, even for someone who is perfectly healthy. For someone who has to suffer from a debilitating and destructive disease like dementia, adding the slightest bit of joy and creativity into their lives is bound to have a significant positive impact.
If you find art and music are helping with the management of dementia symptoms of loved ones, perhaps it is time you speak to a therapist or a healthcare professional. For more information, you can also visit Northwood Intouch or speak to one of our customer care representatives.