Music Therapy-Inspired Programs for Individuals with Dementia

Music therapy-inspired programThe AP is excited to launch its newest community outreach initiative, a music therapy-inspired program for memory care facilities in our region. We have all witnessed the devastating effect dementia can have on loved ones. Aside from memory loss, diagnosed individuals and their families often deal with mood changes, depression, paranoia and decline of social skills. Patients can see a loss of appetite, which can affect nutrition and health of the body as well. Once simple movements can become virtually impossible for the individual to do on her own.

There is incredible evidence of the power of music on brain function in those diagnosed with dementia. Engagement with music activates the entire brain – something no pill can do. Music can help seniors recall memories and emotions from their past. While verbal communication may not be possible with advanced dementia patients, music – through dancing, clapping, singing and small movements to tap a drum or shake a tambourine – can be a way for families to communicate with their loved ones once again.

Music therapy-inspired programThis new program is designed to create a fun and engaging group bonding experience through music for those with dementia and their family members. Small ensembles of Arapahoe Philharmonic musicians will play an interactive program of music the participants will recognize. The participants will be encouraged to sing or play along with simple instruments. A Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) will have created the specialized program and will be on site at each session to facilitate engagement and interaction between the musicians, the participants and their families. This program is unique as it involves more than one musician and will include instruments not often utilized in one-on-one music therapy.

Our intention is to provide these programs free of charge to care facilities that could not otherwise offer this type of group experience for their residents. There are a number of memory care facilities in our community, and the initial response to hearing about this program has been very positive.

For the memory care residents, the goal will be to get them actively singing, tapping and playing along with the music they know from their past. The group setting will help them “come out of their shell” – to laugh, perhaps cry, and interact with other residents and the musicians, alleviating the feelings of loneliness or isolation they may be experiencing. Family members who attend can witness the joy music brings their loved one, and can learn how to engage with them through music on their own.

The Arapahoe Philharmonic is sincerely grateful for start-up support for this program from donations received at the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 TANK event and a grant from The Lillis Foundation.