Music therapy and dementia

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"Nordoff Robbins has brought music back into my mother’s life and it’s through music that we have found a way to remember the good times, have fun and see her in a way that we will always want to remember her."

Elderly people often face many losses: health, mobility, income, activities and social networks.

To live well in old age, people need access to social opportunities, pursuits that engage body and mind, activities that are enjoyable and which allow skills to be maintained and developed.

Music therapy sessions in day centres and care homes offer musical opportunities to sing, play, perform, listen and move. It can help with:

  • Reconnecting people with their emotional past through familiar songs
  • Engaging people in the spontaneity of the present, promoting fun, animation, community bonding and family relationships

Living well with dementia

Dementia is a neurological disorder but has its own section here as a major field of work for music therapists. The number of people living with dementia, currently estimated at 820,000 in the UK, is forecast to rise rapidly in the coming years.

Those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia experience loss of mind which compounds the other losses of old age. Musical input can:

  • Reduce isolation, promoting active engagement, communication, creativity and expressivity
  • Alleviate the anxiety and depression often associated with dementia
  • Stimulate memory
  • Provide an opportunity for families to share experience and maintain a relationship with their loved one

Music therapy fits the person-centred model of care that focuses on promoting key areas of psychological need in dementia: comfort, attachment, inclusion, occupation and identity. It delivers on key objectives and recommendations of the National Dementia Strategy.

Music therapy can bring life to the whole care home or day centre in which the work happens. Music therapists can provide training for staff who can then engage with residents in new ways; music transforms the atmosphere and the effects ripple throughout the institution.

If you’d like to speak to one of our therapists about music therapy and dementia, get in touch or find out how to make a referral for you or on behalf of an organisation.