Music has been shown in studies to have a dramatic effect in helping those living with dementia. Whether it’s classical, opera, songs from shows or ‘60s music can sooth, stimulate and bring to mind long-forgotten memories.
The power of music, in particular singing seems to reach parts of the brain in ways other forms of communication cannot. Studies by Professor Paul Robertson says as the ‘auditory system of the brain is first to fully function at 16 weeks, which means you are musically receptive long before anything else. The study argues that it’s a case of first in, last out when it comes to dementia-type breakdown of memory.’
Go into any of our homes and you will often hear music being played, residents singing, musical instruments being played and a huge variety of musical entertainers visiting. We like entertainers that engage – you may find residents & staff dancing to music being played, or singing, whistling, clapping or just tapping their feet. We are constantly changing our entertainers although some homes continue to have firm favourites. We do ask that our entertainers provide a broad repertoire so there is something for everyone.
A very moving clip is Gladys Wilson with Naomi Fells which we believe clearly demonstrates the power of music. It really is worth watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrZXz10FcVM
Looking for a Christmas present idea then what about using an ipod and creating a bespoke playlist. Think about the songs that you heard playing when growing up, perhaps include the song your relative had as their first dance at their wedding, music from a show they love, a hymn, lullaby the possibilities are endless. If you want suggestions on what to include then we suggest reading the Playlist for Life “How to make a playlist for life.” Alternatively you could fill an ipod with a range of music including wartime memories, Nat King Cole, Glenn Miller, 50’s rock & roll, Elvis, Beatles, Elton John, classical music as possibilities.
Ian Donaghy, author of ‘Dear Dementia’ says “the power of music – it creates togetherness, a sense of belonging. Some songs make you laugh others make you cry but they can all remind us who we are.”
We hope to hear some favourite playlists soon