How Music Can Help Residents With Dementia

Senior Living and Music

New Study Finds Hopeful Link Between Patients with Dementia and Music

Dementia, a form of Alzheimer’s, is “one of the only top-10 causes of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association in Illinois. The majority of individuals diagnosed with dementia symptoms grow to rely on care provided by a nursing home to help manage their daily activities, medications, financial needs, and assist them while residing in a safe environment.

For decades, physicians and families of nursing home residents have fought against the misuse of antipsychotic drugs to treat dementia symptoms rather than look to alternative treatments. Researchers now say findings related to how the human brain responds to a familiar song at super speed could be used to help calm patients battling dementia.

Participants in a recent University College London study showed they could recognize a familiar song within 100 to 300 milliseconds, highlighting the deep hold favorite tunes have on one’s memory, according to the study brief published in ScienceDaily.

“A Growing Interest in Exploiting Music to Break Through to Dementia Patients”

Senior author, Professor Maria Chait, (UCL Ear Institute) was quoted saying of the study’s findings, “Our results demonstrate that recognition of familiar music happens remarkably quickly. These findings point to very fast temporal circuitry and are consistent with the deep hold that highly familiar pieces of music have on our memory … Beyond basic science, understanding how the brain recognizes familiar tunes is useful for various music-based therapeutic interventions. For instance, there is a growing interest in exploiting music to break through to dementia patients for whom memory of music appears well preserved despite an otherwise systemic failure of memory systems.”

For decades dangerous narcotics that come with a “black box” warning and terrible side effects have been overused in dementia residents to hush or lessen their care needs, despite rules against the misuse of these drugs as chemical restraints.

Professor Chait continued “Pinpointing the neural pathway and processes which support music identification may provide a clue to understanding the basis of this phenomena.”

On the rare occasion when nursing home understaffing is not a recurrent problem, qualified care teams could be trained in non-medicated therapies rather than sedating dementia patients, especially since several drugs are known to cause a drastic decline in a person’s overall health and well-being.

Attorneys for Individuals & Families Affected by Dementia

If you have a family member with dementia who was not looked after appropriately by medical staff or care personnel, please contact our attorneys in Chicago to discuss your situation. Our consultations are always free, confidential, and handled by one of our attorneys skilled in fighting for the rights of residents battling Alzheimer’s. Call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872.

Also read: Staffing Needs Trump Innovative Resident Treatments

Source: University College London. (2019, October 30). Name that tune: Brain takes just 100 to 300 milliseconds to recognize familiar music. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 23, 2019 from




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