This is your song… Using music to live well with Dementia

Dementia affects more than 800,000 people in the UK, and Alzheimer’s Research thinks that there may be around 1.14m people living with dementia in the UK by 2025. That’s a lot of people.

Dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease, is a life-changing condition that gets worse over time. It affects different parts of the brain over time too, mainly causing problems with memories but also affecting their sense of time and space, language, and how they communicate. This means that carers, friends and family members, and health professionals are constantly looking for effective ways to bring a sense of being to those living with Dementia, and some relief from the debilitating and often frustrating symptoms.

Many carers and support organisations are turning to music to support those who are living with this cruel disease. Sadly, there is no cure for Dementia but there are ways to keep the brain active and reduce the chances of it developing or to slow the symptoms – one of these is keeping socially active and trying new things. But for people already living with Dementia, getting out and about can be difficult, and they can often become isolated and lonely. Music is an easy and effective way for them, and their families and carers, to spend time together and offers a way to connect when communication is difficult.

Image: Playlist for Life (playlistforlife.org.uk)

Research also suggests that music can help reduce the often-distressing symptoms of dementia, helping to bring a sense of calm when feeling overwhelmed.

Music creates a special physical reaction in the brain, stimulating several areas at once meaning that even if there are parts of the brain that are damaged, music can still reach other parts.

A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that music is incredibly beneficial to those living with Dementia:

  • reducing anxiety and depression,
  • supporting speech and memory,
  • reducing the need for antipsychotic drugs, and
  • reducing hospital stays.

Music for Dementia is a national campaign that champions the use of music for those living with this cruel disease. They promote music as a necessity and should be an essential part of a Dementia Care Pathway. Their ‘5 Ways to use Music’ explores why music is a powerful tool in dementia care, and the positive impact it can have on the lives of those living with Dementia. Music enables people living with dementia to stay connected to who they are, and the world around them, and to have meaningful interactions with their friends and families.

Their website is full of information and advice on using music as therapy and the benefits for mental health, communication and self-expression, care, and shared experiences for carers and family members.

 

Playlist for Life, provides lots of information and advice on how to make a meaningful playlist to help you to support people living with Dementia. Their website is full of free resources to help you create the perfect playlist, from finding the right music to how to make music therapy a part of your daily routine. They also have training and webinars available to help you and your loved one live well with Dementia.

 

Local Dementia Support

Approach Dementia Support provides resources, information, and support to enable people who are affected by dementia to live well. Their activities in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent include singing groups, reminiscence activities, and weekly dance sessions.

The Dementia Network Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent works to create and support a community-wide response to Dementia across the area and enable people to live well with dementia

Beth Johnson Foundation’s advocacy service supports people at the most vulnerable time in their lives – when they have been diagnosed with Dementia or are awaiting a diagnosis.

You can also find various local support and activity groups on the Stoke-on-Trent Community Directory, a huge database of local health and social care providers, services, self-help groups, community and voluntary organisations, and more.

 

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