Thank you for the music: how music can help people with dementia

We all have certain songs that have the power to instantly transport us back to a specific moment in time, whether it’s the soundtrack to your favourite summer, your ‘first dance’ song or an album your parents always played in the car. And given the power of music to conjure up past memories, it is perhaps unsurprising that music is coming to the fore in supporting people living with dementia.

The benefits for dementia patients

According to The Alzheimer’s Society, one in six people over the age of 80 have dementia and it is one of the main causes of disability later in life. While there are no long-term cures, ways of alleviating symptoms are being actively researched. And it is music that often has a powerful effect in both stimulating memories and also improving the quality of life of patients.

A recent report by the Commission on Dementia and Music, coordinated by the International Longevity Centre (ILC), suggests that regions of the brain associated with musical memory may overlap with regions relatively spared in Alzheimer’s disease. This indicates that a person with dementia may still be able to understand and enjoy music, and it may even help in the recall of information.

It also offers other benefits to dementia patients. Sally Bowell, Research Fellow at ILC-UK, said: “Music has tangible, evidence-based benefits for people with dementia, such as helping to minimise the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, tackling depression and anxiety, and, importantly, helping to improve quality of life.”

How you can help

Music and memory have an extremely strong bond – music stimulates the whole brain, keeping it active. If you are caring for someone with dementia, why not pick out some of their favourite music? The Commission on Dementia and Music found that people with dementia retain the clearest memories for the music they enjoyed between the ages of 10 and 30, so we recommend looking for music from this period of their lives.

While not a ‘cure’ for dementia, music (and singing along!) is reported to help retain speech and language, improve mental health and enhance quality of life – not to mention the precious memories it might unlock. Here at Unique Senior Care, we think it’s well worth a shot!

Our Dementia care service

Here at Unique Senior Care, we have many years of experience supporting older people to maintain their independence. As a result, our Caregivers all receive bespoke training to give them the skills they need to care for sufferers of dementia, so they get the care they deserve.

If you are looking for a little extra help caring for a loved one with dementia, click here to find out more about our services.

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