Over the years, the team at Share and Care Homeshare has witnessed first-hand how music can help people living with dementia, which is why we are supporters of Music for Dementia, a UK-wide campaign calling for music to be accessible for everyone living with dementia.
To quote one of our Sharers, who lived with one of our Householers who found it difficult communicate due to her Alzheimer’s; “Our shared love of music was an important factor in our relationship. Share and Care picked up on our shared interest. If she was anxious, I would change the whole atmosphere by putting on music, or by playing music together. She may have been living with Alzheimer’s, but she was still very intuitive and loving.”
Sadly, the number of people being diagnosed with dementia is on the increase and, by 2025, will have exceeded 1m; yet there is no cure on the horizon. Music has a powerful and unique role to play in enhancing quality of life as it can help in many ways. Indeed, the ability to process, respond to and engage with music remains intact, however severe the dementia.
There is a growing evidence base to show that musical activities improve general attention, cognition, memory, speech and communication skills in people with dementia. They can also reduce agitation and the need for medication. Lived experience also relates that music is a wonderful connector, bringing people back into ‘the here and now’ to enjoy the moment with carers, family and friends.
The Music for Dementia campaign believes everyone living with the condition should have access to music as part of their care, from diagnosis, through treatment to end of life, with a wealth of information and resources on its website, including:
- The Musical Guide to activities you might try in order to keep the music going during COVID-19
- The Musical Map for Dementia – listings of musical services suitable for those with the condition, from singalongs and choirs to discos, live and recorded performances across a number of genres (currently all virtual and date-searchable, but to return to a postcode-centric map when appropriate)
- Advice for family and professional carers at home
- How to make the music personalised with playlists
- The Musical Dementia Care Pathway – a document that shows how music can be woven through all phases of the dementia journey.
In June 2020, in direct response to the pandemic and the withdrawal of many in-person services due to lockdown, Music for Dementia launched m4d Radio. Developed in conjunction with people with dementia and their carers, this 24/7 free internet radio station plays era-specific music on 5 channels – mix, 30s-40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. It has won two dementia awards as a result and has been a huge hit with carers and people living with dementia alike.
To add your voice to the Music for Dementia campaign, sign up to see how you can help raise awareness and understanding of the power of music, or visit musicfordementia.org.uk to learn more about how music could help someone you know with dementia.