Living Well With Dementia - Making Music Meaningful
Written by: Sue Goldsmith, RMN
When a person is diagnosed with dementia, all too often there is a fear of what the future might hold. Questions are asked such as ‘how will it affect me?’ or ‘who will I become?’
Changes might be gradual or they may happen quite suddenly, depending on the type of dementia that the person has been diagnosed with, but one thing is certain….life will change.
So how do you stay focused on the good things in life? How do you make sure that the person with dementia maintains their identity and their relationships and continues to live well?
In this series of blogs, we want to explore different ways that people living with dementia and their carers live with the condition; ways that they adapt their way of living to overcome the challenges that they might face on a daily basis, or activities that they participate in that help them to communicate and stay connected with others.
This blog focuses on music and how it can help to maintain wellbeing, as well as give pleasure and enjoyment in the ‘here and now’.
So why music?
Music is a medium that we are all familiar with. It has the ability to take us back in time and help us to focus on particular memories associated with the song or the piece of music we are listening to.
For people who are living with dementia, this is all important. Evidence suggests that the parts of the brain that are responsible for remembering music are one of the last parts to be affected by dementia and therefore it is very different to the day to day memory that can be impacted by the condition. It has also been suggested by research studies that music reaches parts of the brain that other things just don’t reach.
So how can music help?
Listening to music can help to reduce anxiety and depression. It can be a form of relaxation and can help to calm a person’s mood if they are feeling disorientated or frustrated. Some people living with dementia may struggle to understand what is going on around them – everyday tasks such as getting dressed or making a drink might confuse them, programs on the television can be difficult to follow, but music can have a calming effect. Music in a variety of forms does not need to be ‘followed’ and does not need to be understood, it is there to be enjoyed and therefore places little or no pressure on the person.
Music can help to maintain communication and express yourself. One of the common symptoms of dementia is that people may lose some or all of their ability to communicate verbally. Music is a way of helping people to continue to communicate with people around them and maintain those relationships. The stimulating nature of music can catch a person’s attention and help motivate them to connect with others. Humming or singing along to music together can help to keep people close.
Music doesn’t discriminate. Music can be enjoyed on all levels by all people, regardless of their abilities. You can listen quietly and enjoy it, you can sing along, you can dance to music and you can make music. It is the ‘all-inclusive’ activity that helps you and your loved ones to enjoy the moment.
Music can help with reminiscence. Research suggests that the memories of music we listened to between the ages of 10 and 30 are the most embedded and may well prompt very clear memories of that period. Spending time listening to music from those eras while sharing memories of those good times can be a lovely, calming way to pass the time.
Music isn’t expensive. Music is one of those hidden gems that doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are a great number of radio stations available now and the advent of technology such as Spotify allows you to access all the music you could only imagine before, of songs you thought had gone for good. There are also so many musical videos available on YouTube so for people who enjoy brass band music, musicals or theatre, this is readily available too.
So, what are you waiting for? Let music into your lives and see for yourself the joy it can bring – you won’t be disappointed!
Dementia Care at Bluebird Care Lewes District, Brighton & Hove
Bluebird Care Lewes District, Brighton & Hove can provide experienced staff to help you maintain your quality of life while remaining in your own home. We create a specialised dementia care plan with you. This might include:
- Reminding or helping you to take your medicines to manage your symptoms
- Support with bathing and/or dressing to keep you looking your best
- Catheter care and continence management to maintain your dignity and comfort
- Help to establish a regular exercise routine to improve mood and mobility and to strengthen muscles
- Making sure you have plenty of fluids and a balanced diet with enough fresh fruit and vegetables and fibre to keep you healthy and avoid constipation
- Assisting with routine household chores and shopping so your home life is as you would like it to be
- Companionship, or helping you to be involved in social activities.
Our dementia home care and live-in care services provide the support and care you need to get you and your loved ones through the difficult days.
Get in touch with our friendly team to discuss your care requirements; call us on 01273 022055.
How to find the right care for you or your relative
1. Find your local office
Bluebird Care delivers care from locally based offices, find yours to start your care journey today.
2. Get in touch with us
Fill in our call back form or give us a call to find out how we can help you.
We’ll come out to you to find out what you or your loved one needs to help stay independent at home.
4. Care team chosen & care starts
You'll be cared for by our specially trained team to support you to remain at home for as long as possible.