Dementia Patients May Have Found Hope in Music
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Dementia Patients May Have Found

Hope in Music


Dementia care



Since the first time that a caveman tapped a few sticks together, music has been performing miracles. There is something eternally special about the way that music affects the human soul. The medical healing properties that are unlocked by music are sometimes so amazing that they surpass what even doctors can do.



Dementia, or a more commonly known variation of dementia known as Alzheimer's disease, is a condition that affects many elderly persons. Although the causes are mostly unknown, there are theories that blood flow in the brain alters over time causing certain parts of the brain to suffer. It is defined by the medical community as a progressive loss of cognitive ability.


Medical Attempts at a Cure


There have been so many attempts to get control over progressive dementia that they cannot be listed here. Everything from various drug therapies to surgery has been attempted and at best has had a temporary effect. The intensely unknown cause of the disease makes it difficult to correct. Knowing that it may be associated with blood flow in the brain is not enough to help make any changes.

The brain has more blood vessels than anywhere else in the human body. Attempting to alter the blood flow of the brain itself would be like trying to alter the traffic patterns of a large city from a thousand miles away.


Is There Hope?


An organization known as MHA has been making strides in blowing away some of the confusion in dementia patients. They have been using music to reach the person inside the patient. This has had some staggering effects and research is continuing. Ming Hung Hsu is a music therapist that has been working with a variety of patient disorders for many years.


His music therapy has reached many, many dementia patients to the point of deep participation in the therapy sessions. These sessions are one on one and can vary a little depending on the patient. Most of the time it involves various musical instruments and trying to get participation from the patient in the playing of music and the results are staggering.


The results are a little slower than Ming Hung Hsu and MHA desire, but this is a reaction to the powerful effects that the therapy is having. The results are actually so exciting that it is addictive, making Ming Hung Hsu want more and more. It is almost like a miracle to see the patients come out of the fog and play music, even if only for a little bit.


The Future


The results are spurring on further research and an expansion of the program. It is amazing progress, but there is work to be done. One of the areas that MHA wants to push toward is communication. Like Autism, dementia is a disease with a powerful aspect against treatment. Because the patient is virtually unable to communicate, there is no way for a doctor to find out exactly what is happening.


The key to further treatment will be the ability to get information from the patient as to what they are experiencing during the deepest levels of dementia. Knowing if the patient is fully or partially aware of their surroundings will alter the course of medical treatment. Building upon the foundation that Ming Hung Hsu has laid down, researchers and doctors hope to make even greater strides in finding a cure for dementia.


Treatment is growing by leaps and bounds, but it will still be a long road to getting a full understanding of this debilitating illness. With the perseverance of people such as Ming Hung Hsu and organizations like MHA, the days of dementia completely altering people's lives may be numbered. Until that time, however, it is still a disease that is changing people's lives across the entire globe.


If music can bring even a small light of hope to those suffering from dementia, then it is an amazing discovery. There is no denying that a better understanding of dementia is coming and coming soon. As far as a cure, or a permanent treatment, time can only tell that tell. MHA and Ming Hung Hsu surely will not rest until they have found an answer to this age old question.


Lucy James is a freelance writer currently helping to represent MHA in the UK. MHA are a UK based elderly care charity specialising in Retirement Living and Dementia Care.




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