Music can stimulate the communicative capacities of seniors with dementia, as suggested by a study conducted in a retirement community in Israel and recently published at the Journal of Music Therapy. The researchers aimed to test the common idea of music therapists that music could help patients with middle- to late-stage Alzheimer’s reconnect with memories and become more social.
Researchers asked the six retirement community patients between 65 and 83 years old, with prior experience singing, to attend group music therapy sessions twice a week for a month and listen to music that was popular in Israel between the 1930s and 1950s, since participants were more likely to have listened to and identify with the music during their youth, when their identities were still taking shape.After listening to the popular music in group, the residents of the study shared their experience with one another and to the researchers. Most of them expressed the feeling that the music inspired them and reported that the music triggered memories. Some of the participants also said to have remembered childhood experiences, usually related to the music that they heard. The re