What are the benefits of music for dementia?

What are the benefits of music for dementia?

“Without a song or a dance, what are we?”

Music, as they say, is food for the soul, and this is something we know to be true here at Ambiance Care.

Working with clients living with dementia means getting to know everything about them – what they like and dislike, what’s important to them, and what makes them happy. For many of our clients, music features strongly, bringing back memories of joyful times they still remember well.

Dementia usually affects more recent memories first, but music is a type of implicit memory preserved in parts of the brain that aren’t as easily damaged by the disease.

British neurologist Dr Oliver Sacks famously said that “music imprints itself in the brain deeper than any other human experience”, and evidence suggests that he’s right. Scientific studies show that listening to music stimulates the brain in various places, including those that are less damaged by the disease, which is how people living with dementia can still remember their favourite song or piece of music when it’s played to them.

The power of music

Listening to music can stir emotional memories in people with dementia – their first time dancing, their wedding, a special concert, for example – helping them recall these happy moments, which in turn is beneficial for their wellbeing.

At Ambiance Care, we produce personalised music playlists for our clients that include each person’s favourite songs and tunes that remind them of special moments in their lives. Dr Oliver Sacks also said that music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring memory, and we’ve got a lovely story that illustrates this so perfectly.

We got to know that one of our clients Grahame had danced to the song Unforgettable on their wedding day, so, to mark their wedding anniversary, we surprised Grahame and his wife Marilyn with a special celebration and played the song as Marilyn came home that day. Grahame sang to her loudly, beaming and taking her in his arms before they waltzed around the kitchen together.

We were so honoured to witness this wonderful moment of pure joy and happiness, testament to how music can awaken powerful emotional memories in people living with dementia.

The benefits of music for dementia

While there is presently no cure for dementia, there are ways to improve the wellbeing of people living with the disease, and music can be extremely therapeutic. Music offers many benefits for those living with dementia, including:

  • Reducing anxiety

  • Easing agitation

  • Reducing depression

  • Encouraging interaction

  • Maintaining speech

  • Enlivening and stimulating

  • Encouraging movement

It’s clear that music plays a valuable role in enhancing quality of life, and it can also help build connections between individuals and their carers, as well as maintaining connections with loved ones. Music has even been known to help people with dementia who are apathetic and withdrawn; they can suddenly spring back to life. “Music brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.” – Dr Oliver Sacks.

We found an interesting video all about how music can help those living with dementia – take a look to learn more about this fascinating topic.

Dementia Issues – Music from Kreativity on Vimeo.

Find out more about how we support people living with dementia in Stockport, East Cheshire, South Manchester and Trafford – call us today on 0161 537 0983.