Music for All Generations

New studies on the positive and negative affects music has on elderly have come out.


Gracie Nowlan, Editor

Science is constantly evolving and new research is being discovered almost daily. Alpine Reschke-Hernández is a music therapist and has found a way to strategically use music in order to help improve people’s wellbeing, especially those who are elderly.

For example, oftentimes, anyone listening to “Sweet Caroline” will be prompted to sing and dance because of the upbeat song that has been carried on through many generations. But, when Hernández played the same song for an older person, the song brought tears and sad memories to them. This opposing reaction emphasizes how music carries many memories with it which can influence people’s emotions even years and years later.

There have been many noticeable benefits of music therapy as Reschke-Hernández has found in her own practice. She hopes to find out if tapping into music related memories could assist to positively influence emotions of people affected by dementia by partnering with neuroscientists.

During one particular study revolving around this informative, participants rated how they felt after listening to self-selected music, and they then stated whether they remembered listening to music. For up to 20 minutes, positive and negative emotions lingered in both healthy adults and in the participants with Alzheimer’s disease, whether the participants actually remembered listening to music or not.

The findings from these studies infer that emotional responses to music may not even depend on memory recall at all. Reschke-Hernándezstates that “If we can help [people with dementia] have a lasting emotional response, or better emotional regulation using music, well, that’s fantastic.”

Overall, this new research and information is crucial for doctors and caregivers, since music could possibly have more long-lasting effects on a patient’s health and well-being than scientists may have previously thought. In all, there is definitely further research that needs to be done but scientists may now have a better understanding of memory loss in dementia.