Music holds the power to heal and connect. Not surprisingly, music therapy is a growing
field that has shown to positively impact health outcomes in seniors. Partnering with The
Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights is offering a music therapy
program for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as a program for seniors in
Independent and Assisted Living.
Research suggests that music can help improve the recovery of motor and cognitive function in
stroke patients, reduce symptoms of depression in individuals with dementia, and even ease
pain and promote faster healing in people who have undergone surgery. Music therapy has also
been shown to reduce anxiety in those undergoing routine tests and procedures, such a
mammograms and colonoscopies. It is especially beneficial for those with dementia and
Alzheimer’s, as it can help them recall memories, improve communication, and provide a sense
of calm. Interestingly, our ability to engage with music is one of the last to be impacted by
either dementia or Alzheimer’s.
This unique collaboration with The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music engages and explores the
communicative and emotional healing aspects of music, using popular music and other musical
styles that appeal to residents to inspire engagement and encourage deeper connections. With
plenty of beautiful open spaces and a variety of musical instruments and technology, residents
can explore their own musicality. The program also helps them to recall memories in a safe,
therapeutic space. Like scent, music has the power to transport us to another time and place.
With the use of personally meaningful music, it’s possible to access memories that may have
been locked away.
In a study conducted at UC Irvine, Alzheimer’s patients improved their scores on memory tests
when they listened to classical music. In another revealing study, adults ages 60 to 85 were able
to improve their processing speed and memory after just three months of weekly 30-minute
piano lessons and three hours a week of practice. There is also evidence that suggests people
who played a musical instrument as a child for a decade or longer are at an advantage when it
comes to having a sharper mind later in life. In a study, researchers tested 70 people between
the ages of 60 and 83 with a number of tests that measured memory and other cognitive skills.
They scored significantly higher than the control group.
Fortunately, you don’t need to have played an instrument as a child to benefit from music
therapy. Aside from the promising research done on music and its ability to reawaken parts of
the brain and unlock memories, music also has the potential to reduce stress, lower heart rate,
and regulate blood pressure and respiration rates. There is also evidence that it can influence
seniors’ perception about their quality of life. Music therapy is yet another way to access the
healing power of music