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New research reveals the healing power of music to soothe and stimulate people with dementia and help bring back long forgotten memories

If you care for someone with dementia you are probably already well aware of the powerful affect music can have on their mood, memory and self-confidence. So it’s good to have this confirmed by researchers at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, who recently carried out a study into the benefits of music therapy.

Residents in two care homes were given one-to-one music therapy (by a qualified music therapist) every week for five months. Afterwards, their dementia symptoms and general wellbeing were shown to have improved, while challenging behaviour had lessened. Beneficial effects on mood, emotion, agitation and anxiety were also noted by carers, even two months after the study had ended.

This is only the most recent of many pieces of scientific research carried out worldwide which have shown the beneficial effects of personally meaningful music in the treatment of dementia. If you have ever attended a Singing for the Brain session (run by the Alzheimer’s society) you will have first hand experience of this. If not, you could get started straightaway.

One of the best ways to use music therapy at home is to create a personal playlist for a person with dementia then put it on an mp3 player. Research suggests the most potent period for musical memories is from the mid-teens to early twenties so if you’re struggling to find any particular favourites, this could be a good place to start.

To find out more on how music therapy can help someone with dementia, click here.