We all know music is enjoyable, but did you know it can also get the brain moving? This is what makes it so valuable for people with dementia. Therapists have studied the effects of music on those living with dementia, and the benefits of music therapy include:

  • Memory improvement
  • Mood improvement
  • Creating positive emotional states
  • Giving the person with dementia a sense of control over life
  • Providing a non-pharmacological method to manage pain and discomfort
  • Stimulation that helps develop interest even when other approaches have been ineffective
  • Opportunities for social interaction with others

Medical experts have been doing research on music therapy to find out the effects music has on the brain so that they can better treat dementia. Researchers have found a strong connection between the brain’s auditory cortex (which processes music) and its limbic system (which processes feelings). This biological link enables sound to be processed by parts of the brains which are associated with long-term memory and feelings.

Researchers have also found that the active making of music (as opposed to the passive listening to music) can be more effective in helping people with dementia. When the person actively makes music, this activates another part of the brain that controls balance and movement – the cerebellum – in addition to cognitive and limbic areas. That’s why therapists suggest that people with dementia don’t just listen to music, but also try to learn how to play a musical instrument.

Researchers have many testimonies of the powerful effect that music therapy has on people living with dementia. Professor Paul Robertson, a concert violinist and academic, recalls playing for a former church organist with advanced dementia. He said that she had no ability to use language and wasn’t able to recognise people or places. Robertson said, “Someone started singing a hymn and this woman sat down at the piano, found the right key and accompanied the singer in perfect order.”

Here at Care Visions At Home, we provide dementia therapies to slow down the progression of the illness. For information on our personalised dementia therapy program or other services, please call us at 01915 801 690 or email us at athome@carevisions.co.uk