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NOTE: While the following is a press release for a company called MindStart, we felt the information and the products offered might be of interest to some of our readers. Please note that we are not affiliated with MindStart in any way.

Music therapy can provide cognitive stimulation, social interaction, and reminiscing for people with dementia, as well as calm them. MindStart, a provider of activities for people with dementia, has teamed with Music Through Life to offer music therapy DVDs designed to help individuals receiving dementia care.

Today 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia (Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures 2012). Alzheimer’s disease affects many functions of the brain, such as problem solving, memory, communicating, and visual/spatial awareness. As the person has more difficulty thinking, they often stop doing tasks, socializing with others, and participating in hobbies.

Individuals with dementia can also have periods of anxiety or agitation. Potential causes for this include frustration, worry, and boredom. This poses a challenge for caregivers, as they search for ways to keep the person active, while avoiding feelings of frustration and failure.

One activity that has been proven successful with people with dementia, is the use of music. The parts of the brain that have to do with music and emotional memory are often less affected by the dementia. Therefore, music may stimulate and connect with people with dementia in a way that spoken words cannot. People in late stages of dementia, who rarely speak, have been noted to come alive to music being played, singing along or tapping their foot.

According to 2011 research published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, music helps to reduce agitation in individuals with dementia. Families noted improved moods in their loved ones. Using music that the person previously enjoyed or that is from their early adult years has been most effective. Listening to music is a failure-free activity that can be easily incoporated into the day of the person with dementia.

Because of the scientific and anecdotal evidence of the benefits of music with individuals with dementia, MindStart has teamed with Music Through Life to offer DVD’s that are led by a music therapist and that are geared towards older adults with memory loss.

MindStart is a designer of adapted Alzheimer activities, helping people with dementia to stay active. Products include games, puzzles, and books. Extending the product offerings to include music therapy DVD’s was a natural next step. MindStart owner and occupational therapist, Monica Heltemes, comments “MindStart believes in dementia activities that are adult-oriented, that capitalize on skills the person with dementia still has, and that tap into preserved memories. The Music Through Life DVD’s offer all of these things, so were a good fit to add to the MindStart product line.”

Music Through Life DVDs were created by board-certified music therapist, Kristin Shields, to facilitate social interaction, cognitive and sensory stimulation, reminiscing, and life enrichment for older adults, especially those with memory loss. Two formats are included on each DVD:

An interactive format for when a facilitator is available to lead.
A continuous play format led by the music therapist, where no facilitator is needed.

13 different DVD sessions are offered, including “The Outdoors”, “Occupations”, and “America”. Each DVD includes a guide booklet which can help facilitate conversations about the topic of the DVD and the songs sung. The DVD''s allow the benefit of music therapy to easily and affordably be brought right to individuals living with dementia.

Link to San Francisco Chronicle here.

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