A Music Therapist’s Perspective on Using Music to Engage a Person with Dementia
ITA Music Therapist Andra Duncan, MT-BC recently wrote a guest article for Dementia.org on six different ways that you can use music to engage your loved one with dementia. Andra discusses her firsthand experience with those who have dementia and seeing how the power of music moves them. One unique aspect of (live) music is its ability to move a person in ways that other methods may not. Music also helps people connect and communicate when verbal speech may not be viable. Most of the techniques Andra has recommended use live music. Some examples she gives include attending a live concert and playing an instrument together. But why live music? Live music engages people in the present with the help of nonverbal communication, such as eye contact.
When choosing music for older adults with dementia, consider the following questions. What was popular when your loved one was in his or her late teens and twenties? What song did your parents dance to at their wedding? What are the songs that your loved one learned at a young age? Did your mother or father ever sing songs to you as a child? Did your loved one have any songs of kin that are important to his or her culture?