Music Memory and the Holiday Season

Christmas cartoon picture

The Holiday celebrations and hoopla can often be overwhelming for persons with dementia.  One way to stimulate memories of holiday experiences is through music.  Since music memory is stored more throughout the brain, it’s less likely to be effected by Alzheimer’s  Disease, stroke or trauma. There is a groundbreaking program called “Music and Memory” being adopted in Nursing Homes across the country, where patients have iPods loaded with their own personal favorites.  Most seniors relate most to the music they enjoyed in their teens & 20’s, no matter what the era.


A popular video from April, 2012 on you tube (“Man in Nursing Home Reacts to Hearing Music From His Era”), shows how a depressed & uninvolved man becomes animated & talkative after listening to some of his old favorite music.

The music stimulates other memories associated with the time involved & lasts after the headphones are removed.  Music has also been used to lower blood pressure, elevate mood, & decrease anxiety.


One holiday activity involves reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas or whatever faith is celebrated.  Ask for people to share their opinions & then play & sing songs that relate to their answers.  Examples might be:

 Christmas is Joy “Joy To The World”
Christmas is the Birthday of Christ “Away In A Manger” – “O Holy Night”
Christmas is family time “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”
Christmas is a time of peace “Let There Be Peace On Earth”
Christmas is about giving “We Three Kings” – “Little Drummer Boy”
Christmas is Santa Claus “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”


It also can be fun to share memories of making & eating favorite foods during the holidays, decorating the tree & home and talking about favorite gifts given & received.


Wishing you a musically joyful holiday season!

Senior Home Companions