Music & dementia

Dementia and music therapy

Approximately 50 million people worldwide develop dementia and unfortunately, this number shows no signs of slowing down. Dementia music therapy can help alleviate symptoms of dementia.

In order to manage symptoms, there is a variety of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical strategies; however, most have a limited effect on alleviating the behavioural symptoms.

Alternative non-pharmaceutical therapies approaches such as music therapy have been widely researched. Research has suggested that music provides benefits, both emotional and behavioural, for those living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

A study that was carried out in 2015 by the Anglia Ruskin University’s Institute for Musical Therapy in Cambridge, on the impact of musical therapy for dementia patients, found they had a positive response in ‘improving’ participants dementia symptoms and general wellbeing, whilst also leading to patients being less disruptive to staff.

Benefits of dementia music therapy

Music and singing are powerful emotive tools that are associated with many memories, regardless of a person’s age and memory capacity!

Many studies have been conducted that demonstrate the power of individualised music programs in reducing agitated behaviour for dementia patients, and music giving them the ability to reflect on memories they had otherwise forgotten.

Key brain areas, such as those linked to musical memory, are relatively undamaged by Alzheimer’s so it is understood that music can have an amazing ability to transport a person living with dementia back to yesteryear and evoke powerful reactions to familiar songs.

Overall, music therapy appears to be a positive treatment for the improvement of cognitive function and agitated behaviours in dementia patients. Music brightens everyone’s day, so it’s no surprise this form of therapy appears to be so successful amongst those living with dementia!

It is heart-warming to be able to enjoy something so positivity emotive with friends, family or your patients living with dementia. So next time you’re wondering how to pass the time, put on some songs from yesteryear and hopefully you’ll be able to see first hand the positive effects of the music!