Brain Matters Magazine - Spring 2017

Baycrest Health Sciences & Baycrest Foundation Publications

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Tap into the healing power of music M usic is a universal language that can protect your brain health. Research has shown that listening to music can help with the management of stress, sleep loss, pain or high blood pressure in older adults, says Dr. Amy Clements-Cortes, a Baycrest music therapist. For older adults with dementia, listening to music they enjoyed in their youth helps trigger memories and stimulates thinking and social interaction. "Music you listened to while growing up is often ingrained in your long-term memory," says Dr. Clements- Cortes. "For people with cognitive impairment, hearing that music in the present can bring back memories from the past, facilitate reminiscence and trigger past sensations and feelings that helps them connect back to their identity." Healthy older adults can also tap into the power of music. Dr. Clements-Cortes advises her clients to consciously listen to music for 30 minutes a day to reduce stress and improve their mood while they are getting ready to go out or eating a meal. "Avoid playing music all the time. You no longer benefit when it no longer captures your attention," she adds. Dr. Clements-Cortes, who leads one of Baycrest's Buddy's Glee Clubs (a choir and community music therapy program), also suggests older adults with limited musical backgrounds join a community choir or group music lessons. "Getting involved fosters a sense of inclusion and expands your social network," she adds. A study she led found that Glee Club members with mild to moderate dementia reported improvements to their mood and reduced anxiety and pain. Dr. Claude Alain, a Baycrest senior scientist, suggests those who grew up playing an instrument continue doing so in their later years. "Older adults who took formal music lessons before the age of 14 and continued training during their adulthood enhanced areas of the brain that support speech recognition," he says. These listening skills impact an older adult's ability to socialize. If music lessons were not a part of your childhood, lessons could still help. Dr. Alain is exploring a musical intervention that could help older adults overcome speech comprehension issues. "The act of making music integrates the brain functions of hearing and listening with action and movement," says Dr. Bernhard Ross, a Baycrest senior scientist who worked with stroke survivors to make music during a rehabilitation program aimed at recovering arm and hand function. "Engaging these functions could help retrain the brain." "Listening to music can help with the management of stress, sleep loss, pain or high blood pressure in older adults." For more information, visit: BrainMatters SPRING 2017 3 TIPS TO CREATING AN EFFECTIVE PLAYLIST* An effective playlist is the first step for older adults to tap into music's benefits. Whether this playlist is for yourself or someone you care for, these tips will help you get started. 1. Create several shorter playlists for individuals with cognitive impairment 2. Create different playlists for different purposes, such as an energetic playlist to become more alert or a calming one to help alleviate stress 3. Stop the music while the individual is still engaged to leave him or her feeling connected and active *Adapted from Baycrest's Creating Effective Music Listening Opportunities

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