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Music therapy can help people suffering from dementia

Written by on 18th January 2018



Only 5 per cent of care homes use the treatment effectively, reports a new study

Music therapy can help people suffering from dementia

A new study has reported that dementia symptoms such as anxiety, memory loss, agitation and aggression can be significantly improved if people suffering from the disease listen to and play music.

It was carried out by a commission set up by the International Longevity Centre think tank and charitable trust the Utley Foundation. The conclusions were found by consulting a number of experts and looking at previously compiled evidence.

The report argues that insufficient funding is being directed into music therapy, and hundreds of thousands of people could benefit from greater awareness of its value.

One woman spoken to for the research said that “Music is now the one thing I can share with” her 62-year-old husband with dementia “that seems to give him pleasure.”

Currently there are around 850,000 people suffering from dementia in the UK, with that figure expected to surpass 1 million by 2025, and 2 million by 2051. The current annual cost of dementia treatment in the country is predicted to rise from £26.3 billion a year to £50 billion a year in the next three decades.

According to the report, significant savings could be made if the disease could be delayed, arguing music therapy can achieve this.

It said: “There is emerging evidence to suggest that music may help to delay the onset of dementia and improve brain function and information recall.”

MPs and peers in parliament will be presented with the findings, that warn only 5 per cent of care homes use music therapy effectively through communal live music sessions or personalised playlists, today, January 18.

Further measures the report calls for are a campaign promoting the effectiveness of music therapy, and the introduction of an ambassador for dementia and music.

“The benefits of music for people with dementia are clear and yet why is it that so many people with dementia are not accessing appropriate music-based interventions? At the heart of this debate is the right for people with dementia to have not just a life, but a good life and to be comforted and enlivened by the power of music,” reads the report.

Director of operations at the Alzheimer’s Society, Kathryn Smith, said: “Historically, there hasn’t been much research into how music can help people with dementia. It is great, therefore, to see the potential of the creative arts being tapped into by researchers. This could really help us to understand any benefits of music for people with dementia and other important points, such as how people can best access music.”

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