Music and movies work well with persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the evening.
Music is particularly effective with persons with cognitive loss; for example, many caregivers have noticed that their family members enjoy singing and can recall song lyrics long after writing and speech have declined. Your loved one may not be able to name a fork or spoon or express her thoughts well, but he or she still knows all the old song lyrics to her favorite song or hymn.
Evening activities involving music can include a simple sing along, an “evening concert” where you listen to some of your favorite songs or singers on CD player, cable/satellite television system or internet radio. As you enjoy the music, pause occasionally to talk about the song lyrics or singer.
Music has an added dividend – it may actually be therapeutic for persons with dementia. A recent Boston University study noted that music might help persons with Alzheimer’s disease retain information longer. [Source: http://www.bu.edu/today/2010/music-boosts-memory-in-alzheimer%E2%80%99s/].
Starting a “movie night” ritual is also a good evening activity. Pick a theme for the month like westerns, movie musicals or movies themed around a particular star like Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne or Judy Garland. Use the Internet to pull up trivia about the star so that you can have some fun facts to discuss.
Make the evening special. Pop some popcorn or serve some healthy snacks and beverages. If you have younger children or grandchildren in the home, use a movie night to create an intergenerational activity. Show the movie over special nights if your loved one’s attention span is short. Pause the movie to enjoy the discussion. You might want to talk about the costumes, the scenery or even the theme of the movie if this person is able to follow the conversation.
Music and movies have one more advantage. When you create this evening ritual, your loved one may settle down and enjoy the experience on his or her own, allowing you to get some chores done, take a short break or get ready for the next day. Music and movies can give you a break too!