Listening to music is an amazing pastime, so is singing. Now, there seems to be more reasons to sing and hear your favorite songs than just for pleasure. The activities can improve cognitive functions for seniors with mild or early stage dementia.
A recent study conducted by Finnish researchers has concluded that singing can boost the working memory, orientation and executive function in people with mild dementia and the effect is even more prominent in seniors aged less than eighty years.
The study focused on eighty nine people who had early stage dementia and were monitored for ten weeks. Some were coached in singing, some were made to listen to their favorite songs or familiar music and some were given standard care, as they had been accustomed to. The groups that were exposed to their favorite songs and were coached in singing showed improvements in thinking skills, memory and they had better cognitive functions, including reasoning and finding their way around. Those who were under standard care did not show any such improvements. Listening to music had an effect on people with advanced dementia.
Both the acts, listening to music and singing, also had an impact on depression. Those who have mild Alzheimer’s Disease had their moods uplifted when listening to music and while singing.
The study was lead by Teppo Sarkamo who said that dementia is still a complicated reality that researchers and scientists are trying to unravel. While efforts are bearing fruit and we are having more revelations, studies like these help us to offer better care and to attend to the needs of those suffering from dementia.
Being able to attend to the social, emotional and cognitive quotient of people with dementia will have serious positive impacts on the lives of those suffering and their loved ones. The findings were regardless of the people’s exposure or prior association with music, which is interesting since any past elements will not impair the impact of singing or listening to music.
The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. It is already being considered as part of treatment at various healthcare centers and in particular by caregivers who are always on the lookout for better ways to attend to the patients’ needs. While the study may be limited to seniors younger than eighty, early stages of dementia if managed well can be confined and that can delay the onset of advanced dementia.