CHARLOTTE – Music has the power to help seniors living with Alzheimer’s to remember old times, exhibit emotions and come to life. Studies show music can boost production of “happy hormones,” such as melatonin and prolactin, resulting in elevated moods.
The therapeutic use of music by board-certified clinicians can reduce stress and agitation, as well as help with engagement and memory recall.
Understanding the effects music has on memory care residents, Waltonwood Cotswold offers a music therapy program in collaboration with Roots and Wings Music Therapy and Queens University of Charlotte.
Two music therapy students from the university’s art and music department visit Waltonwood Cotswold under the supervision of a professor every Thursday. They practice clinical skills and build competency through their training program.
A board-certified music therapist from Roots and Wings Music Therapy also works with memory care residents throughout the year. The therapist uses techniques during bi-weekly sessions to maintain residents’ cognitive and physical skills while sustaining a social connection using music.
“We believe that by combining music therapy sessions with the intergenerational aspect, we create something powerful,” said Leah Nash, executive director at Waltonwood Cotswold.
Students sometimes hand residents instruments and encourage them to participate in a song creation. The activity gives them a sense of community and shows them skills they might have never used.
Students may also have residents listen to music from a time when they were younger, which helps bring back memories and emotions.
“The sessions are sweet and fun to watch, and they are also enjoyable for the students and the residents,” said Varvara Pasiali, interim director of music therapy at Queens. “There are endless amounts of activities the seniors can engage in, and we are grateful to have our students showcase and better their skills at the senior living community.”