Music Therapy and Dementia

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Dementia is a progressive disease found in mostly Older people. It is described as the deterioration of brain function. It will affect memory, thinking, judgement, behavior and other every day life skills. It can be caused by different medical conditions, along with other factors that occur through out someone’s life. Dementia is broken down into three stages based on progression. There are many interventions used to slow down the digression of the disease, one being Music Therapy.

Dementia can be caused by many different factors. One element that can be a leading cause for dementia in elderly people is Alzheimer’s Disease (Whalley, 2006). Alzheimer’s Disease is another neurological disease that causes confusion and memory loss. It can come from Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington’s Disease and infections that affect the brain; such as HIV/AIDS and Lyme Disease (Hoch, 2009). Dementia can also be age related, “accumulate over time” (Whalley, 2006). The reason it may come with aging is due to normal brain aging, however, occurring at a quicker than normal rate. There are also some factors that can be eliminated before hand to reduce the likely-hood of developing Dementia later in life; such as chronic alcohol abuse, brain tumors, use of certain medications, low B12 levels and unstable blood sugar levels (Hoch, 2009).

The first stage of Dementia is labeled as Early- Stage Dementia. The signs of are very subtle at this point in time. Most commonly found in Early- Stage Dementia patients is memory loss. This, however, is not a definite sign that someone suffers from Dementia because it can be common for anyone to be forgetful at times. If this does begin to be evident it is important to look for an increase in memory loss, plus some confusion and disorientation. If the person is married their spouse may notice that their significant other may have more abrupt and angry speech (Clair, 2008). Others around people with Early- Stage Dementia may notice that financial decisions begin to change abruptly and drastically. The caregivers may notices “decisions made regarding financial matters that are opposed to the values their loved ones have always held” (Clair, 2008). They may retire for no obvious reason or take out big loans for a business idea or anything else that can have harmful outcomes. On top of the signs of deterioration, signs of depression become evident after being diagnosed with Dementia. Some of the symptoms that may occur upon diagnosis are; lack of sleep or appetite, isolation from everyday activities (such as bathing or taking medications (Clair, 2008), and at extreme levels suicide threats. After depression symptoms begin to subside, Early- Stage Dementia patients may begin to take part in obsessive activities. The reason for this is because they are still aware of the condition and that they will be losing their ability to function independently. Acting obsessively, such as repetitively emptying things or moving, help give make the patient feel useful and may even calm them down to know that they are still a functioning member of society. Since the patient is still in Early- Stage Dementia, the most common intervention is “pharmacological management” (Clair, 2008). A physician may prescribe the patient with medication to lessen the symptoms. Some of the medications that a patient with Dementia may be prescribed are, Antipsychotics (such as haloperidol, risperdal or olanzapine), Mood stabilizers (such as fluoxetine, imipramine or citaliopram), Serotonin- affecting drugs (such as trazodone or buspirone) and/or a Stimulant (such as methylphenidate) (Hoch, 2009). Also the patient may be recommended to join a support group, along with the caregiver. This can help both the patient and caregiver cope with the hard situation they have been faced with. Music is another part of the intervention process for Early- Stage Dementia. Music can be used as a mean to exercise,...
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