Jan 22, 2018

“I love singing as well, but it’s marvellous for her”: The Power of Music and Dementia

“Music soothes the soul,” they say, which is especially the case seen in people living with dementia.

Dementia has a wide range of symptoms that can vary from person to person. While some may have challenges with memory and recall, others deal with high levels of anxiety and depression.

According to a new report, these symptoms, as well as many others, could significantly improve by something as simple as music.

For some people, it was found that playing and even listening to music can help them to recall memories that a loved one thought were long forgotten.

The study, conducted by British researchers, was presented to the Upper House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom last week.

“There is emerging evidence to suggest that music may help to delay the onset of dementia and improve brain function and information recall,” it said.

In light of such results, it’s been suggested that not enough funding is being allocated for music therapy, and that more opportunities need to given to allow people to access alternative therapies.

“The benefits of music for people with dementia are clear and yet why is it that so many people with dementia are not accessing appropriate music-based interventions?” the report said.

“At the heart of this debate is the right for people with dementia to have not just a life, but a good life and to be comforted and enlivened by the power of music.”

Singing for the Brain

In the UK, The Singing for the Brain choir has seen some outstanding results to their singing.

The residents of the Croyden aged care facility who have dementia seem the thoroughly enjoy the choir, which was specially created for people with dementia to join.

Peter Edwards from Singing for the Brain talks about the effect of introducing music therapy to aged care, “you see people come back to life. There’s a great raising of self-esteem – People with a diagnosis realise that they are equals again”

“They can do what everyone else is doing, in some cases better.”

One of the benefits of music therapy is the decrease use of other traditional forms of therapies, such as the use of anti-psychotics.

Sally Bowell from the International Longevity Centre says that “we’ve all been hearing about how we want to decrease the use of anti-psychotic medication, and music provides a really fantastic alternative”.

“You have a better memory for the music you listen to between the ages of 10 and 30. So if you’ve got a relative with dementia, even if they can’t communicate with you anymore, you can think back to when they would have been 10-30 years old.”

“And use that as a key to unlock the kinds of music that they might really enjoy, and might have a lot of benefits for them.”

Dot and George met when they were 14, “I just can’t get rid of him,” she says, “no, I love every bit of him.

Dot and George participate in the choir regularly.

George says that the singing transforms her, “it’s the best thing ever for Dot. I love singing as well, but it’s marvellous for her.”

Dot jokes, “he didn’t sing like that when I first met him”.

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