Ivy Palmer - Care Advice & News

Music Therapy: A Holistic Approach to Dementia

With the number of people living with Dementia expected to reach 1 million by 2025, the need for effective yet accessible treatments is growing. Although Dementia is an incurable degenerative brain disease, there are a number of ways that its symptoms can be alleviated, making life more comfortable and enjoyable for the individual. One of these approaches is through the use of music in treatment, adopting a more holistic approach to the wellbeing of the person living with dementia.

The International Longevity Centre (ILC) and the Commission on Dementia and Music have recently carried out a series of in-depth studies into how music can be used to help reduce the severity of some dementia symptoms, such as aggravation and confusion. With this new information, the Commission and other parties are striving towards achieving a society where those with dementia can easily access music, as its benefits continue to be proven for those experiencing symptoms.

Breaking a world of silence for someone with Dementia

For some with dementia, their world can often be silent as they progress through the various stages, losing the capacity to interact with those around them. Sometimes, simply talking to those with the disease in order to encourage them into communicating is not enough; navigating an environment with unfamiliar faces, sights, sounds and smells is challenging enough without dementia. This is where music therapy can offer a non-intimidating gateway into old memories and simple, everyday interactions that can help to restore a sense of normality for the individual and their loved ones.

Evidence for music treatment

Despite this request being a relatively recent development in terms of treatment, research into the area has been a continuous effort. Chief Executive, Baroness Sally Greengross says how “Despite growing evidence of the value of music, we are not seeing enough being done to improve access to appropriate music-based activities.” At the moment, the amount of music therapy available to those with dementia only equates to “roughly 30 seconds per week, per person”, showing that very few individuals are currently receiving this beneficial treatment.

Not only can music help to ease certain symptoms such as depression, anxiety and agitation, it also allows a way for friends and family of the individual to interact and connect with them with ease. The music causes a sort of “memory bump” which triggers our most potent memories that are formed between the ages of 10 and 30. This can then create the perfect chance to interact and bond with individuals living with dementia without any stress or discomfort.

If you feel that yourself or a loved one could benefit from receiving a similar treatment for their dementia, our living in care team can offer the support you need. To find out more, you can contact us or call us on 0808 274 8170 to speak to any experienced member of the team.

Further details from the ILC about the research into music therapy to help treat symptoms of dementia can be found here.