Today – 26th September 2019 – is BBC Music Day

The BBC is promoting and celebrating the power of music for everyone – it’s a wonderful initiative! 

Of particular relevance to us at Live Better With and our community is the special recognition being given to how music can enhance the lives of people with dementia, prompting meaningful memories, encouraging emotional expression and strengthening relationships. 

The way that we listen to music has changed in recent decades. I am sure that many of you reading this blog will recall the first single you ever bought. Mine was ‘I’m Still Waiting’ by Diana Ross. It was a 45rpm record that I purchased from the local record store in the town where I grew up. The song reached No 1 in the UK singles chart in August 1971. I imagine that I would have bought it with my birthday money that year. 

As it was for most young people, music featured heavily in my teenage years. Influenced by Top of the Pops, Radio 1, pirate radio stations, music played in the youth club and, in my later teenage years, live gigs in pubs & music venues and the interests of my friends and boyfriends, I listened to a wide variety of genres. 

Record shops were quite a thing: much anticipated Saturday lunchtime would be spent browsing through records and carefully choosing an LP, bought with hard earned money from my Saturday job. 

Accessing music nowadays is far different, it is widely available, high in quality and much lower in cost. The choice of listening devices is much greater, and the variety is huge. 

The world of music in the 21st century can feel complex and overwhelming for many people living with dementia. There are barriers. 

Music for Dementia 2020 is a national campaign that recognises and seeks to overcome the barriers that people with dementia face in accessing music. The mission is to make music available to everyone living with dementia by the end of 2020.

The Musical Map aims to pinpoint geographically all music related activities in the UK that reach and include people living with dementia.  The campaign is calling for organisations and individuals offering musical activities – choirs, drumming workshops, ukulele groups, music therapists – to submit their details to the map to enable information to be shared and be more widely available.

If you are living with dementia and have taken part in a music initiative, please get in touch to let me know how music has been beneficial to you 

Music is good for us all, especially if we dance as well! 

Dance adds value to the experience, helping to maintain muscle time and stamina and improving balance, co-ordination and motor control. There are many local organisations offering movement and dance programmes for people with dementia. One example is the famous ballet company in London, Rambert. Weekly session that are free to attend provide people with early dementia and their carers/partners the opportunity to take part in partner and group exercises based on Rambert’s repertoire. No previous experience of ballet is required. The dance experience encourages participants to express emotions freely and create connections beyond language. 

Dance, music, experience of all art forms, improves our life quality. When a person is diagnosed with dementia, their life changes: confidence can diminish very quickly. Friends and family don’t know what to say or are fearful for the future. The stigma around dementia is still very real. 

Being inclusive of people with dementia, treating each as a unique individual with opinions, interests, a life history, aspirations and a future is imperative to promote life quality, optimism and hope. 

Making music accessible plays a big part, recognising that music tastes are individual for people with dementia, just as they are with us all. 

Today – BBC Music Day – the BBC is releasing the latest version of its ground-breaking website BBC Music Memories designed especially for people living with dementia using the extensive BBC archives.  This latest release is a powerful resource providing access to a much wider selection of music that reflects the diversity of the UK population. 

Also new today is BBC Memory Radio broadcasting music and radio programmes from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s derived from the BBC archives. 

I hope you will all find a way to enjoy your preferred type of music today.

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