Utilizing Music with Alzheimer's: the Strongest Kind of Magic
Once upon a time; in a faraway land, there was a millennial caregiver who lived happily in her kingdom with her mother who had early-onset Alzheimer's. Thus, as time went by, the Alzheimer's progressed to a point that the mother was always upset, irritated, and annoyed. And yet through it all; the millennial caregiver continued in her efforts to keep her mother happy and calm until one day... She was!
Music, Alzheimer's, and caregiving
As a caregiver for my mom these last ten years, I am always humbled when I receive a compliment that "I make it all look so easy," as if I am in possession of some type of magical incantation that makes things appear so fabulous and fun.
Could you just imagine if it were as easy as saying bippity boppity boo? Well from one caregiver to another, I think we all know that nothing could be further from the truth. Caregiving is no picture-perfect fairytale.
The not so picture perfect fairytale stuff
Want to hear my confession as to why that is? Well, it's because caring for someone takes a lot of magic work. Yes, work. Sleeves up and elbow grease in, this is no easy feat.
When caring for a loved one, especially one with dementia, the many progressive changes that occur can be tremendously hard. Changes not just to the memory, but to the personality. This is a hard reality to accept for both the loved one with dementia (LOWD) and their caregiver.
As a caregiver myself, I have learned that understanding the cause of these changes can make the situation a bit more bearable.
Put 'em together and what have you got?
Causes for a personality change can be influenced by aggravating factors such as sundowning, boredom, hunger, or pain. As the disease progresses, it may become increasingly more difficult for the LOWD to communicate why they are acting differently so understanding these factors can be a great tool when assessing how best to address them.
For example, along my own journey as a caregiver, my mom had always taken pride in her appearance and personal grooming; however as the disease progressed, I found it more difficult to persuade her to continue in these activities.
Our bippity boppity boo: music and Alzheimer's
After trying what seemed like all the things to get my mom to take part in her grooming, music seemed to be the missing salagadoola if you will, to keep my mom in a bippity boppity state of engagement. When people would see my mom they would always compliment how calm she was but little did they know that I had some great things happening behind the scenes of my caregiving magic.
Our magic came in the way of some great old-school R&B tunes!
Music is the strongest kind of magic
Alexa, play my mom's favorite song on repeat.
My mom prefers old school R&B and I have discovered that by playing specific songs, I can have better control over her moods allowing for easier and agreeable interaction.
Here's what I have streaming through her speakers...
For grooming in the morning and late at night: I play something light and fun for this task which can be anything by the Jackson 5.
For getting ready for bed: a nighttime guided meditative soundtrack always settles and relaxes mom to sleep deeply.
So my fellow caregivers, cue the mini dance party or the calm down energy mode! Share below your magic aka music and if you are using it in your care for your LOWD? Tell us in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
Looking for more Alzheimer's resources? Check out the Caregivers Resource Center.
Do you have any caregiving tips that could help the community?