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Music and Memory Care: Understanding The Connection

Can you think of a day when you haven’t heard a musical sound? It’s almost impossible. We hear music on TV and radio, at work, the gym, restaurants, businesses, and sporting events. We go to concerts, practice an instrument, sing in a choir. Babies are soothed to sleep, and thousands of toys have music as part of their lure. We dance at weddings and sing in the shower. Imagine a movie without music; it is the unseen actor playing a major role in the film.

Clark knows the value and importance of music to those we serve. You often hear music in the halls, in the Chapel, at events and activities.

Music Therapy at Clark is an amazing program, providing not only therapeutic value but comfort and happiness to those with memory impairment.

“Our music therapists focus on individual experiences and backgrounds giving personal meaning to the musical activities. It is amazing to see the effects music can have on individuals with dementia. It can unlock distant memories and allow individuals to re-live precious times from their past,” said Chris Simons, Director of Dementia Services at Clark.

Other music enrichment programs at Clark include Ever Sound, re-engaging seniors with hearing impairment through a headphone system, enhancing musical and other experiences, and IN2L (It’s Never Too Late) allowing residents to musically reminisce through computer technology.

“Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory…it brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.” —Neurologist Oliver Sacks

For people with dementia, the part of the brain for speech is different than the part processing music. This is why those who can no longer converse or have memory impairment are able to sing a song from beginning to end. A Northwestern University study confirmed musical activity preserves cognition and memory, and involvement in music therapy lowers stress levels, maintains physical health, social functioning and even reduces falls.

To learn more about Music Therapy at Clark, please call 616-278-6520

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