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


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”

Guest blog – Why is dementia research the elephant in the room?

This blog was contributed by Matthew Norton, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, at Alzheimer’s Research UK

With the Care Bill running through parliament, the development of historic reform of the funding system for social care and much political focus on the integration with the health system, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Gordian Knot that is health and social care integration is close to being severed.

Challenges to health and social care integration

There are a number of reasons why there is still a long way to go before it can be claimed that social care has been fundamentally and sustainably reformed:

  1. The challenges associated with funding reform;
  2. A lack of a concrete and proven plan to integrate health and social care with a focus on the individual;
  3. Structural issues relating to the fact that health is free at the point of use and social care is not.440x210_holding-hands

However, at Alzheimer’s Research UK we are concerned that the issue of dementia and particularly research into finding effective treatments is being missed in the debate around health and social care. Of course we have the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, and this has been responsible for a huge step forward in fighting dementia, but we know this alone isn’t enough. A focused and coordinated effort to create a step change in the way we tackle a particular issue is one thing, but in order to create a sustainable and ambitious legacy it is crucial to build solutions, learnt from this initiative and others, into the fabric of the health and care services. Doing so will continue to improve the lives of people with dementia long beyond any single initiative. The current agenda around social care presents us with one such opportunity. Continue reading “Guest blog – Why is dementia research the elephant in the room?”

Tackling dementia: the next big issue of the 21st century?

Age UK has recently launched the most comprehensive synthesis of evidence into the Health outcomes of older people, which looks at trends between 2005 and 2012. What it shows is that dementia is one of the next big challenges of the 21st century. Like cancer 20 years ago, we need to get to grips with this disease and begin to tackle it head on.

The numbers have been widely reported, but they are stark – we have roughly 800 000 people with dementia and this predicted to increase to just under 2 million by 2050. The chance of having dementia goes from 1 in 20 at 65 to 1 in 3 by the time you reach 90. This rise in numbers is going to have a huge impact on our society.

If we’re going to support the numbers of people with dementia in the future and ultimately find a way of treating the disease, what is required is a ‘step change’ in our collective mind set. One of the reasons we’ve made such good progress in fighting cancer is because of the very successful campaigns and initiatives that have fostered collective action across all parts of society to unite and do something about it – be that fundraising, research, improved treatment in hospital, better care for people suffering for the disease. We need this level of awareness and action to create change in the treatment and support of dementia. Continue reading “Tackling dementia: the next big issue of the 21st century?”