Art, Music, and Dance Can Help Alzheimer’s Patients Communicate

Nursing Home Blog

Life is challenging when a loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. One of the most difficult things to deal with is seeing your loved one start to lose the ability to communicate.

Art and Music Provide Hope

However, there is reason for hope, even if your loved one has difficulty communicating using words. Researchers are finding that some seniors with dementia still have the ability to create art and music, even if they are verbally impaired.

Scientists don’t know the exact mechanism that allows some elderly people to retain their artistic and musical abilities. They think that creating art and music uses different parts of the brain than the part used for verbal communication skills. So dementia patients who are verbally impaired can access a different type of “language” by using art and music to communicate with other people. Essentially, they can bypass the damaged areas of their brains and instead use parts of the brain that are still healthy.

Some of the people the researchers studied were able to create sophisticated works of art, even when they had trouble completing seemingly much simpler, ordinary day-to-day tasks of living.

Art Therapy and Music Therapy Can Help

Senior facilities that offer art, music, or dance therapy have seen great results, with residents using the creative arts to communicate in ways they could no longer communicate with words. These therapies also enhance the lives of the residents in several other ways. Residents enjoy socializing with the other residents in their therapy groups. They are better able to communicate with loved ones and hospital staff. They experience the joy of creating something beautiful and the satisfaction of being productive. The creative expression may bring up memories for them. Overall, the experience of engaging in creative work was enriching in ways that stimulated their brains.

When You Need Help

It’s wonderful when nursing homes and other facilities offer programs that enrich the lives of their residents. Unfortunately, we can’t always count on these facilities to do the right thing. Sometimes, seniors in facilities are exploited or abused. If you suspect a loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse, contact an experienced attorney. Call Garcia, Artigliere, Medby & Faulkner at 1-800-281-8515 to find out more about the rights of dementia patients and how an elder law attorney can help.