The power of music and the joy it can bring to people living with dementia has been a hot topic in the media recently. Earlier this month, BBC One aired an inspiring two-part series, “Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure,” which explored how music therapy can improve the lives of those living with dementia.
There has been a wealth of academic research looking at this relationship. One such study was conducted in 2018 by researchers at the University of Utah, who analysed the effect hearing familiar music had on the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease. They found that brain activity increased in those areas of the brain which are affected by music temporarily, with greater connectivity between brain areas.
What are the other benefits?
Whether it’s 50s rock and roll or songs from the musicals, singing or listening to music provides an enjoyable experience for families and their loved ones to share together. This can be at home or at an organised session in your local area, such as Singing for the Brain. This is an initiative run by Alzheimer’s Society in a number of locations nationwide, which aims to use singing to bring people with dementia together in a friendly and stimulating activity. You can search for your nearest Singing for the Brain session on Alzheimer’s Society’s website.
Providing opportunities for social inclusion
As well as bringing people together who are sharing similar experiences, music therapy, such as a dementia choir, also gives people the chance to get out and about in their local community. This is something which we actively encourage at Right at Home, to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Listening to music can unlock memories from the past. Playing music that meant something, such as a first dance at a wedding, can tap into powerful memories and emotions. NHS England has a great article on its website about the connection between music and dementia and you can read this here.
Not only is singing an outlet for those living with dementia to express themselves, it can also improve their mood and alleviate symptoms of depression.
Mutual understanding and supporting each other
Those living with dementia, as well as their family members/carers, can often find social experiences stressful or uncomfortable, but at dementia friendly activities, there is a mutual understanding from all those attending.
What other activities could I get involved in?
As well as Singing for the Brain sessions, there are dementia friendly cafés and exercise classes up and down the country and cinemas and theatres also holding dementia friendly sessions. Take a look online to find out what sessions are available in your local area.
If you would like information on how we can support your loved one with dementia, contact our friendly team.