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Art and Music Therapy in Dementia Care: Healing Through Creativity

Art and Music Therapy in Dementia Care: Healing Through Creativity

When you google “dementia care near me,” various memory care communities and programs likely come up. In-home care options, drop-in daycare programs, and long-term residential care communities are available, but how do you know what’s best to choose for your loved one? There are several considerations to remember, like proximity, cost, ratio of staff to memory care recipients, what level of care is needed, and whether additional assistance with activities of daily living would be beneficial. 

One crucial thing you might look for is whether a memory care program like the one at the Mission at Agua Fria incorporates art and music therapy into dementia care. This article will go over what art & music therapy is and how it can help with dementia.

What are Art and Music Therapy?

Both art and music therapy fall under the umbrella of expressive or creative arts therapy, which combines elements of psychotherapy with artistic expression. With all creative arts therapy, the focus is on the process rather than the product. Therapists encourage those involved in a supportive and non-judgmental way. The main goals and basic concepts of these types of therapies are to help people:

  • Express themselves creatively
  • Explore, understand, and respond to emotions and thoughts
  • Develop self-awareness and new coping skills
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Use creativity to enhance mental wellness and quality of life

The creative arts provide significant value and beauty to people of all ages, cultures, occupations, and ways of life. In addition, creating art and music stimulates the mind and the other senses, which is why engaging in these types of creative activities can be so helpful in supporting someone with dementia

How Memory Care Helps With Dementia

In general, memory care is specialized care for people living with memory loss and all forms of dementia (which is an umbrella term for a range of symptoms related to memory loss and cognitive decline), including Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia, and Lewy Body dementia. Professional caregivers receive additional training on dementia-related issues and focus on:

  • Cognitive stimulation, such as word games and puzzles
  • Social engagement
  • Proper nutrition
  • Encouraging physical activity
  • Physical and environmental safety measures
  • Assistance with personal care (e.g., dressing, bathing, medication management, etc.) as needed
  • Cognitive therapy, including art, music, color, and aromatherapy

By focusing on the mind and body together, memory care helps address many symptoms associated with dementia, including difficulty completing daily tasks. Memory care communities are of significant importance to family members, providing additional support within a physically secure environment so they never have to worry about wandering.

Art Therapy in Memory Care

Art therapy can take many forms in memory care programs and communities. Painting, drawing, crafts, making collages from magazines, photography, textile arts like knitting and crochet, and sculpting with clay are all meaningful and enjoyable activities that memory care residents enjoy. 

What are the benefits of art therapy in memory care?

Cognitive Stimulation

Creating art and visual representations involves problem-solving, decision-making, and creative thinking. Viewing art can evoke memories and give a sense of calm, especially when using personal photographs to make art. Sensory and tactile stimulation, for instance, when working with clay, is also an important part of cognitive health.

Enhanced Communication

The ability to express thoughts and emotions in a non-verbal form can be especially helpful for people with dementia who might sometimes struggle to find the right words. 

Social Interaction

Many of the art activities are conducted in group sessions, which provide opportunities for social interaction with other residents. These group sessions also help create strong bonds with the staff who accompany and often participate with residents.  

Reduced Anxiety

Engaging in artistic expression is often an enjoyable and relaxing activity for people. The focus and concentration necessary when absorbed in the task allow for distraction from agitation and stress. 

Improved Motor Skills

Holding a paintbrush or manipulating other artistic tools or media like clay requires hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and dexterity. Maintaining and improving these skills helps with completing daily tasks and increases independence. 

Music Therapy in Memory Care

Some of the most common forms of music therapy in dementia care include playing familiar music from previous eras, hosting sing-a-long events, conducting music classes where people can sing karaoke or try different musical instruments, providing live music entertainment, or playing musical games.

Like art therapy, music therapy has numerous benefits for individuals in memory care programs and communities:

  • Music has the power to evoke emotion and specific memories, which encourages cognitive stimulation and memory recall. 
  • As with art activities, making music through instruments and singing allows people to express feelings and release stress.
  • While listening to soothing music, people relax and feel calm.
  • Playing instruments requires significant hand-eye coordination, which helps keep fine motor skills sharp.
  • Rhythmic movements in time with music can aid in coordination and balance and provide exercise.
  • Engaging in group music activities, such as singing together, provides opportunities for social interaction and bonding, building a sense of community.

Living Well at the Mission at Agua Fria

If you are looking for high-quality memory care for a loved one, you don’t just have to do an internet search for “dementia care near me.” Instead, consider scheduling a visit in person to see the Mission at Agua Fria in Peoria, AZ. Here at the Mission, we have everything your family needs to provide caring, compassionate, professional support for those living with memory loss.

In addition to assistance with activities of daily living, dining services, linen and housekeeping services, game room, media room, onsite hair salon, exercise program, and scheduled activities, our memory care community also incorporates color therapy, music and art therapy, cognitive games, and crafts classes. 

We believe in caring for the whole person, and caregiving is personal for us. We get to know each resident and their family and create personalized care plans that take personal and medical history into consideration. Give us a call to talk about how we can best help your family. We would love to meet you and your loved one!