Music programs are some of the best attended events at any assisted living facility, including those here at Village Green Retirement Campus.
For example, every Tuesday afternoon residents gather at the Hearthside Juice Bar for a sing-a-long with Joan. “You Are My Sunshine,” “Yellow Rose of Texas” and “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” are songs most everyone knows, no matter the age. Find the Village Green activity calendar here.
Researchers have been looking into the healing power of music for a long time, finding evidence that music can lower stress, hasten healing, improve memory, lower blood pressure and relieve depression.
If you are caring for an aging parent who is struggling with dementia-related anxiety or agitation, music might be helpful. Linda A. Gerdner, a researcher at the Stanford Geriatric Education Center at Stanford University, has found that research participants who listened to some of their favorite music for 30 minutes each day were significantly less agitated than those who either listened to classical “relaxation” music or no music at all.
Gerdner’s research suggested that if caregivers know their loved one’s musical tastes and can play that music during or just prior to periods when their loved one often becomes upset or agitated, that behavior might be decreased.
Creating a personalized playlist for your loved one can be a fun afternoon project. If your mother was a teen in the 1940s, try Googling “best songs of the 1940s.” You’ll find lists of songs including “In the Mood,” “I’ll Never Cry Again,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “Careless” and “String of Pearls.” It’s a great start for a loved one who was a fan of Big Bands.
But, it’s equally easy to find popular songs in the Dixieland tradition or opera. According to Gerdner’s research, the key to reducing anxiety is playing music that the loved one enjoyed before the dementia started.
Another option is to shop the discount bins at local music stores. You can often find inexpensive compilation CDs with the most popular songs of a particular time period or genre.