SingFit: At Home Music Therapy for Dementia

Music is great for seniors with dementia

Music benefits seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia in many ways. Multiple research studies confirm this and documentaries like Alive Inside allow us to witness music’s amazing effect on older adults.

Music has even been shown to be more effective than medication in boosting mood, reducing anxiety and agitation, and increasing happiness and engagement – even in people with very advanced dementia.

Music helps seniors with dementia because it activates different parts of the brain and also helps with reminiscing and relating to emotions and experiences. On top of that, research by Harvard Medical School and other leading institutions show that singing has even more health and healing advantages than just listening to music.

That’s why we’re excited about SingFit, a new music app for seniors with dementia. The company was a winner at the AARP Innovations@50+ competition.

 

What is SingFit?

SingFit is a program that elevates mood and improve speech through singing. There’s a mobile app that’s meant for caregivers to use one-on-one and a program called SingFit Prime that’s used for group activities in senior living communities. We’re going to focus on the mobile app that’s for home use.

The idea behind SingFit is to use music as “medicine” to improve brain health in older adults who have dementia. One of the company’s founders, Andy Tubman, is a music therapist and expert on music and the brain.

 

How does SingFit benefit seniors with dementia?

Even when dementia patients can’t speak, they can often still sing. SingFit says that singing and remembering lyrics are often the last things to be forgotten. Speaking uses the left side of the brain, but singing uses the entire brain. Because both sides of the brain are engaged, the parts that control speech are getting extra “help” from the other parts.

The difference this karaoke-style app has on seniors is clear. As they sing and experience the music, their faces light up, they smile, they sway to the beat, and they sing in increasingly loud and confident voices – even if they had been withdrawn before.

 

How does SingFit work and how much does it cost?

One of the best things about SingFit is that no reading is needed, everything is completely auditory. Even if your older adult has a cognitive or vision impairment, they’ll still be able to enjoy singing any song they want.

You can also adjust the volume of spoken lyric reminders and accompanying vocals to suit your older adult’s preferences. If they know the song well, they can belt out the tune unassisted. If they don’t quite remember it, the lyric reminders and backing vocals are there to keep the experience fun.

The SingFit mobile app is free to download and comes with 12 free songs. The app is only available for iOS devices like iPhones and iPads. There’s a $4.99/month subscription fee for unlimited access to the SingFit song library.

DailyCaring tip: If you use the SingFit app on an iPhone, you’ll need to use an external speaker to play the music. The iPhone speakers can only play the app at a very low volume. If you use an iPad, external speakers are optional.

SingFit music therapy for dementiaSingFit app home screen

SingFit music therapy for dementia
Partial list of free songs

SingFit music therapy for dementia
The singing screen; press play or record at bottom to start

SingFit music therapy for dementia
To record: from the home screen, open the menu (in upper right corner) to get to this screen. Set “Enable Record Button” to ON

 

Bottom line

Singing and listening to music are wonderful activities for older adults at any ability level, but is especially helpful for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s a quick, simple, and inexpensive way to create engagement, boost mood, and improve health.

The SingFit app is a fun way for seniors to sing a variety of songs and even gives you a chance to record and share their singing! But you can just as easily use any music player to play your senior’s favorite tunes and have a great time singing along.

 

Next Step  Get the free SingFit app and sing with your older adult today!

 

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: SingFit

 

This article wasn’t sponsored and doesn’t contain affiliate links. For more information, see How We Make Money.


4 Comments

  • Reply May 22, 2019

    Mary A.

    I did find a company making music and VIDEO therapy sessions that have worked wonders for my mother.
    I’ve only been using them for a few months but have seen some AMAZING progress. Once she finishes a 30 minute to 1 hour session, she instantly improves her speech and even sometimes her physical attentiveness.
    Definitely worth a try, especially with the media they have from my mothers youth in the 40s!

    Here is the site:
    http://www.relivmedia.com

    I know how difficult caring for a loved one can be. Hope this helps! Good luck everyone!

    • Reply May 23, 2019

      DailyCaring

      Thank you for sharing your experience with this company. So glad it’s working well for your mother!

  • Reply September 27, 2018

    Tamara Woodward

    This is not music therapy. Please provide the research behind this program and the music and memory program. Our seniors don’t need another empty app or to be set in front of a tv. They need connection, respect and the professional care that comes from a board certified music therapist. I see no proof that the founder is a board certified music therapist. I suspect this program is a sham and will fade away just like the music and memory program is.

    • Reply September 27, 2018

      DailyCaring

      Some may not consider this traditional music therapy. Regardless, this app can help families to use music to brighten moods and improve the quality of life for someone with dementia. In general, music is something that even someone with advanced dementia can enjoy.

      Many families are not able to afford the luxury of a private music therapist. Stories and research have shown that music enjoyment has a positive effect on people in general and specifically on people with dementia.

      Using music in dementia care doesn’t have to be a formal program or done only with a trained professional. That could mean just listening to their favorite music, playing soothing music in the background to calm the environment, singing along to music, singing on their own, singing with someone else or a group, using an app like this one, or working with a music therapist.

      An app and program like this also helps care communities provide music programs to residents at a low cost. Most care communities have small budgets for activities and entertainment, so an ongoing music program is something that residents may not otherwise be able to enjoy and benefit from.

      According to SingFit’s website, their co-founder is a highly respected music therapist, public speaker and expert on music and the brain. View SingFit’s supporting research here — http://www.singfit.com/research

      To be clear, DailyCaring isn’t affiliated with SingFit and doesn’t receive any form of payment or commission. We simply want to share information about a currently available resource (with free songs) that families may find useful in caring for someone with dementia or an inspiration to use music in their own way.

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