Art and Music Therapy for Alzheimer's Disease
There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. There are,
however, many ways to treat symptoms and problems associated with the
disease. Some Alzheimer’s treatments involve medications. Others are non-medical Alzheimer’s therapies like art, music, and more.
The goal of an Alzheimer’s therapy is to help the person maintain a
better quality of life.
Alzheimer’s therapies that draw on individual interests through
structured activities can be beneficial. Which therapies might work best
for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease? Start to answer this
question by thinking about his or her past hobbies or passions.
with the doctor as well, who may have more suggestions and resources for
using these therapies effectively for Alzheimer's disease.
Music Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease
Music therapy has many benefits for Alzheimer’s disease. It may help by:
- Soothing an agitated person
- Engaging the mind even in the disease’s later stages
- Improving eating in some cases
Here are some tips for using music therapy to help your loved one:
Golden oldies spark memories. Songs from the person’s
youth often spark the most memories. In the later stages of Alzheimer’s
disease, you may have to go back to songs learned in childhood.
Encourage sing-a-longs. Try using a karaoke machine.
Toe-tapping beats stimulate activity. Up-tempo dance tunes can help stimulate both mental and physical activity in Alzheimer's patients. Encourage dancing, if possible.
Easy listening can be soothing. Soothing music can help ease the anxiety and frustration felt by many people with Alzheimer’s disease. For
example, lullabies at bedtime can help your loved one get into bed and
A person with Alzheimer’s disease may not be able to verbally
communicate their likes and dislikes. Rely on other clues such as facial
expressions to help you learn which songs are a hit and which
aren’t. Ask friends or relatives for suggestions about the types of
music or particular songs the person used to enjoy.
Art Therapy for Alzheimer's Disease
Painting, drawing, and other forms of art therapy can help people
with Alzheimer’s disease express themselves. Expression through art can
become especially important as a person’s ability to communicate
through words deteriorates.
Here’s how to get your loved one engaged in this art therapy:
Picture the past. Encourage a project that tells a story
or evokes a memory. The project can be something that you can talk about
together, both while the work is in progress and after it is finished.
Free form. Keep instructions to a minimum to avoid
confusion and frustration. Then, step out of the way as the work takes
shape. If necessary, get things started by painting the first few brush
strokes yourself to remind your loved one how it is done. Don’t forget
that the picture is done when the person says it’s done, whether you
think so or not.
Don’t be a critic. If you don’t care for the colors
chosen, keep it to yourself! Positive feedback and questions that
encourage interaction are the best contributions you can make.
Other Alzheimer’s Disease Therapies
Other therapies can help enrich the life of a person with
Alzheimer’s disease. Which therapies work best depends on the needs of
- This hands-on therapy may help in two ways. It can soothe
an agitated person. It may also help a person with Alzheimer’s disease sleep more soundly.
- People who used to enjoy being with pets may
find contact with them enriching or soothing. Match the pet to the
person’s needs. For example, a person who can walk may enjoy visiting
with a dog. A person who is less mobile may enjoy petting a cat.
- Pursuing hobbies or interests that used
to be familiar can help a person with Alzheimer’s feel more stable
about their lives. Consider gardening, cooking, or any other activity
that the person used to enjoy. Try to work these activities into the
person’s daily routines.