Guest blog: How music can help people living with dementia

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Our first blog of the week looks at how music can be used as a way to help care for and support people living with dementia. It was contributed by Doctor Victoria Williamson, Director of Music and Wellbeing, at the University of Sheffield. 

Music is powerful, multi-functional, ageless and universal: one of the greatest human inventions.

You will, no doubt, know music that instantly transports you back in time to a treasured memory. Lyrics pop automatically to your mind. You remember music from decades ago but struggle with the names of people you met just days before.

Psychological studies support these anecdotal accounts of the power of music in long-term memory. Individuals who face extreme challenges to their memory, such as amnesia or dementia, rarely lose these musical connections.

I run the ‘Music and Wellbeing’ research unit at the University of Sheffield and for the last year my team has been looking at the impacts of live music sessions in dementia care*. Nine South Yorkshire care homes opened their doors to us and we recorded remarkable moments between the community of individuals living with dementia, their carers and loved ones, and the visiting musicians. Continue reading “Guest blog: How music can help people living with dementia”

Guest blog – Living well with dementia: understanding the benefits of music therapy

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Today’s guest post is from Donald Wetherick, Chair of Trustees at the British Association for Music TherapyAge UK recently took part in a Parliamentary roundtable exploring the benefits of music therapy for people living with dementia, as part of Music Therapy Week.

Over 800,000 people in Britain live with dementia. This is expected to increase to 2 million by 2050. For the growing number of people living with dementia, their carers and families, music therapy can play an important role in supporting their wellbeing and quality of life.

Oliver Sachs, the well-known neurologist, in his book ‘Musicophilia’, describes music therapy as seeking to ‘address the emotions, cognitive powers, thoughts and memories, the surviving “self” of the patient… to enrich and enlarge existence, to give freedom, stability, organisation and focus.’

Leading research shows it can significantly improve the lives of people with dementia, reducing agitation, isolation and depression as well as the need for medication. It can help people at all stages of dementia. Continue reading “Guest blog – Living well with dementia: understanding the benefits of music therapy”