Music can be powerful. Studies have shown music may reduce agitation and improve behavioral issues that are common in the middle-stages of the disease. Even in the late-stages of Alzheimer's, a person may be able to tap a beat or sing lyrics to a song from childhood. Music provides a way to connect, even after verbal communication has become difficult.
Use these tips when selecting music for a person with dementia:
- Identify music that’s familiar and enjoyable to the person. If possible, let the person choose the music.
- Choose a source of music that isn't interrupted by commercials, which can cause confusion.
- Use music to create the mood you want. For example, a tranquil piece of music can help create a calm environment, while a faster paced song from someone's childhood may boost spirit and evoke happy memories.
- Encourage movement (clapping, dancing) to add to the enjoyment.
- Avoid sensory overload; eliminate competing noises by shutting windows and doors and by turning off the television. Make sure the volume of the music is not too loud.
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Art projects can create a sense of accomplishment and purpose. They can provide the person with dementia — as well as caregivers — an opportunity for self-expression.
When planning an art activity for someone with middle- to late-stage Alzheimer's, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep the project on an adult level. Avoid anything that might be demeaning or seem childlike.
- Build conversation into the project. Provide encouragement, discuss what the person is creating or reminiscence.
- Help the person begin the activity. If the person is painting, you may need to start the brush movement. Most other projects should only require basic instruction and assistance.
- Use safe materials. Avoid toxic substances and sharp tools.
- Allow plenty of time, keeping in mind that the person doesn’t have to finish the project in one sitting.