Listening to your favourite music is a boost for people with dementia

Posted on 23rd October 2020

There are now over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK.

There is a lot that we don’t understand about dementia but one thing that has become clear is that music can bring pleasure and improve mood long after other cognitive faculties have been lost.

I am very excited to be working with a new charity, Music for my Mind. They have observed that people with severe dementia, those who no longer recognise their family and even those who could no longer speak, can still sing along to songs from their teenage years.

Music for my Mind are working on a scheme to develop personalised musical playlists for people with dementia who are no longer able to articulate their musical preferences.

Many care homes have long understood the calming and stimulating effects of music, particularly music from the past. Music for my Mind are using technology to locate the music that each person with dementia enjoys the most.

They have identified that people with dementia respond best to music that they listened to when they were aged between the ages of 15 and 24.

The first step is to find out from family and friends what type of music the person loved, whether classical, jazz, hymns or pop … If pop music, the charity finds 90 songs that reached number one in the charts during the relevant period.

They play 30 seconds’ snippets from each of the 90 songs to the person with dementia and make a note of their reaction. When the response is a smile, clapping or dancing, that song will go on to the personalised playlist.

For people with dementia living in care homes, carers will have access to the playlist when the person is distressed or agitated or at times of the day when it is known that they are often unhappy. Carers can play the music to raise the persons’ spirits or calm their distress.

For those who were born outside the UK, they research the relevant music for the culture and period.

Music for my Mind’s work in care homes has been disrupted by Covid, but they are now working on playlists for people with dementia who live at home. The initial enquiries are carried out in the same way and the family carers are then provided with a playlist on Spotify.

There is more information about the charity’s work and a very moving video on their website.

Dementia is a terrifying condition and but this charity is working on a really inspired scheme which will bring pleasure to many dementia sufferers.

Our Mental Capacity and Deputyship team advise on all issues of mental capacity and assist with managing finances for those who have lost capacity. Our experts specialise in this area of law and offer a personal and supportive service. We take the time to get to know you and your individual circumstances and understand the extra sensitivity and communication skills required. To talk through your needs with one of our specialist team today, call us on 0808 231 6369 or contact us online. 

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