Skip to main content

Music and Dementia

Music Therapy and Dementia

Dementia, characterized by severe impairment of the person’s intellectual capacity, emotional disturbance and personality changes, is caused by a number of different reasons such as the loss of neurons in the brain due to head injury, metabolic disorders, or even due to a tumor in the brain.

The human brain has 2 hemispheres — the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. A large section of the person’s brain is usually damaged in a patient suffering from dementia. While the language skills of a person are exclusively controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain, music is perceived by many different parts of the brain rather than just one particular part of the brain since the different elements of music such as rhythm, pitch, and melody are all processed differently by distinct parts of the human brain. Therefore, it is capable of reaching the remaining healthy sections of the patient’s brain. MORE

Music Therapy Helps Those Suffering from Dementia

Music therapist Jim Wiebe is in full voice at the Oak Bay Kiwanis Pavilion, home to 122 residents with varying degrees of dementia. None of this morning’s group of six people—five of whom are in wheelchairs—appear to be even mouthing the words to “Side by Side” along with Wiebe. Two men, however, are attempting a tentative beat with their bodhran-like drums. Wiebe is unfazed. After 22 years in music therapy, he knows what counts: the small glimmers of a connection between the individual and the music.  Pavilion acting director Penny Donaldson is a big fan of music therapy, “Even though they have dementia, there’s still an opportunity to use the brain. Music brings a lot of pleasure, a flood of happy hormones that help fight depression and make the brain work better,” she says.  Research supports music therapy, according to Wiebe. It calms agitation and stimulates the brain, in addition to being a social activity.
Victoria Times Colonist, Jul 29, 2010 MORE

“Preventive Gerontologist” Specializes in Preventing Memory Loss

Arnold Bresky, a physician who uses art and music therapy in working with people with Alzheimer’s and dementia said that he has had a 70 percent success rate at improving his patient’s memories. Bresky uses a multidisciplinary approach, including painting and drawing, because it exercises their brain and helps to slow down memory loss. He teaches his program to caregivers and nursing students at California State University and Pierce College and has published a book, “Brain Tune Up: The Secret for Caregiver Success.”, June 13, 2009 MORE