Effective Music for Calming Someone with Alzheimer's

Try playing your loved one's favorite music during transitions or during activities that are becoming difficult, such as bathing, driving, or settling down at night. Because musical memories seem to be stored in several parts of the brain, they're a type of memory that seems to stick in the mind even when short-term memory fades.

Some tips for choosing the right music:

  • If you're not sure whether classical, show tunes, or the Beatles suit best, try choosing music from when the person was in his or her 20s. This is often a deeply emotional time for young people, when they may be falling in love, attending parties and dances, and spending a lot of time listening to music.

  • If you're unsure exactly which tunes to choose, aim broadly. Some satellite radio or cable channels are devoted to music from a particular era. Or you can find CDs or search for lists of greatest hits from a particular year or decade.

  • Whatever genre you choose, avoid radio stations with commercials; the interruptions can be confusing or even agitating.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio