Did you know that Music Therapy has proven to be particularly effective for people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD)?

As a nurse working with residents affected by Parkinson’s and Dementia, I have noticed a profound response to music being played in the dining room during meals and throughout the day. More smiles, frequent interactions between residents, toe tapping and even increased food consumption at meal times. Research in both music therapy and in neuroscience has shown that in fact, music can affect function in profound ways.

Dancing-photoSome examples are improved gait and walking, which are two of the main movements lost in people living with Parkinson’s disease. Studies have shown that certain types of music stimulate the production of dopamine and serotonin – two neurotransmitters (chemicals produced by brain cells) that are diminished in PD patients. Individuals with PD or those caring for loved ones with Parkinson’s, should explore the benefits of music therapy in their overall care. Below are a few self-help techniques that can be tried at home.

Explore infectious tunes. Find those songs that make you want to move! We all have our favorites, whether it be reggae, rock, latin, jazz or a band march of some sort.

Once you have found your favourites, create a music library of them, and import them onto a portable MP3 or iPod player so you can play this music while you’re out and about or doing various activities at home. Don’t be afraid to sing along as well. It keeps your voice strong and entertains those around you.

Create a memory library of your favourite music. Familiar music helps us to recall old memories and stimulates meaningful moments in our lives.

Try to find music that helps you feel relaxed for those times when you’re anxious or have trouble falling asleep. Having this playlist ready makes it easy and convenient to play at the bedside.

And lastly, why not seek out a music therapy program in your area and make it a point to participate in group music programs like a local chorus or social dancing group? Getting up and moving around, enjoying yourself and exploring your movements through music, can be very beneficial for you and/or your loved ones living with Parkinson’s disease.

Pamela Schutz, LPN