Four ways music can help people who are living with dementia

17/04/2018

We are delighted to have recently become the very first organisation in the UK to receive accreditation from Playlist for Life, a pioneering People’s Postcode Trust  funded music project that aims to help people living with dementia by connecting them with personally meaningful music. 

Abbeyfield become the very first organisation in the UK to receive accreditation from Playlist for Life, a project that uses music to help people living with dementia

We have seen some great successes through this project, and being able to connect with our residents who are living with dementia through the power of music has meant a lot to them, their families and our teams of staff and volunteers. From reducing agitation to improving social interactions, we take a look at some of the many different ways music can have a positive impact on someone living with dementia:

Reduce agitation in people who are living with dementia

A recent study from researchers at Brown University found that familiar music can have a calming, pleasurable effect on people with dementia and perhaps even reduce the need for caregivers to use medication. Agitation is fairly common in people who are at the later stage of the disease and can be one of the most distressing parts for family members and caregivers to cope with. Reducing this behaviour not only helps caregivers but also improves the quality of life for the person living with dementia. Find out more about agitation and dementia on the Alzheimer’s Association website.

the benefits of music for people living with dementia

Music can help people with dementia stay socially active 

Our social interactions can have a massive impact on quality of life as well as our mental and physical health, and as people with dementia are vulnerable to loneliness and isolation, it is therefore very important for them to remain sociable. From singing together to sharing favourite songs and chatting about them, music can be a great way for those with the disease to stay socially active.

Dancing has many benefits for people with dementia

When we hear a good song, it makes us want to get up and dance. Dancing has been praised for the number of physical and mental health benefits it can have for older people, such as being a great way to stay fit and even helping to reduce falls. Dance can be particularly effective for older people who are living with dementia, as it encourages social interaction, expression and can boost confidence, all of which are crucial to the quality of life for people with the disease. Many care homes are now using dance/movement therapy as part of dementia care

how music can help those who are living with dementia

Hearing old favourite songs can help to bring back old memories

As so much of our identity comes from our memories and experiences, reminiscence is incredibly important in dementia care. So often, many of our fond memories have songs attached to them such as the song that was playing at the moment or just a song that was popular at the time. For people with dementia, hearing these songs may unlock the memories that go with them. Bringing back memories from the past in those with dementia can massively enhance the overall quality of life, giving them increased confidence, improving conversations and even alleviating loneliness.

Abbeyfield's 'Making Music' project with Playlist For Life

It has been wonderful working with Playlist for Life on our ‘Making Music’ project, with 19 of our care homes now having integrated personal music into the day to day care of our residents who are living with dementia. April Dobson, Head of Dementia Innovation at Abbeyfield, said: “The project has been such a success and, in conjunction with the People’s Postcode Trust and Playlist for Life, we have been able to use music to connect with people living with the condition.” 

Watch this video to find out more about this heartwarming and rewarding project. 

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