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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Power of Your Music Muscles

Activities directors, caregivers, and healthcare professionals,here is an article of interest by A Jom

Caring for a person with Parkinson’s disease or dementia can be fraught with challenges, but there are ways of making life and rehabilitation not only more enjoyable, but possible more effective. A growing body of research suggests that music, and other creative forms of therapy, can enrich the lives of people with Parkinson’s and dementia.

remember my father’s expression when he received the phone call. His sister was in hospital, seriously wounded and in a coma. My aunt had had a nasty fall while she was hanging up the washing. She used to be a dressmaker, but the last couple of years she had been unable to button up her blouse. Her nimble fingers that used to produce the most beautiful garments were constantly shaking and trembling.

Caring for a person with Parkinson’s disease or dementia can be fraught with challenges, but there are ways of making life and rehabilitation not only more enjoyable, but possible more effective. So how do we help create a better life for people when their movements and cognitive functions are seriously affected and in decline?

My father is a music lover, and he spent hours escaping into the world of divine sounds after the phone call. Music is capable of transpiring us to the height and depth of emotion, and now scientists are beginning to understand how music can have such a dramatic effect on our minds. A growing body of research suggests that music, and other creative forms of therapy, can enrich the lives of people with Parkinson’s and dementia.

Music can bring dreamy feelings, uplift, and even nurse you back to health. The power of music to enhance our lives begins even before birth. The fetus hears music, and a year after they are born, children recognize and prefer music the heard in the womb.

Research by Norman Doidge suggests that the adult brain is capable of change and growth; it can produce new and modified connections, and even new neurons. The brain is plastic and elastic and it can alter its structure and find a new way to function. Research has shown that melody and rhythm can sometimes activate neurological abilities that have been lost to disease or damaged.

We often tap out toes or bob our heads in time with music, even babies might have a sense of rhythm (recent research by István Winkler and Henkjan Honing). One of the characteristics of Parkinson’s disease is that movements are often too fast or too slow. Focusing on the rhythm and trying to feel its pulse can help people with Parkinson’s walk better and perform consecutive tasks where previously they froze. Music speeds up and slows down and our cerebellum, the little brain, adjusts itself to stay synchronized. Music for people suffering from Parkinson’s should have a firm rhythmic character, but it need not be familiar. The rhythm is the most important.

Parkinson’s isn’t something that is always dark, there are light and memorable moments. Singing may help when speech becomes slurred and unclear due to poor breath support, or as a result of difficulties with the motor aspects of speech.

Memory loss is one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Unbelievable as it might sound, people affected by dementia.........read more about music muscles

A dementia book for caregivers and healthcare professinals,

Here is information on being the best caregiver you can be

Here are more interesting dementia activities and articles,

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