Using music for dementia therapy can be very effective. In this blog we explain how you can apply the use of music in the home for people living with dementia.
Music is a powerful resource in everybody’s lives, but especially for someone living with dementia. Listening to certain types of music can change a person’s mood, depending on the tempo.
- Gentle classical music or meditative-type music can help to calm an agitated person. Played before and at bedtime can help to induce sleep.
- Upbeat music can help to raise mood and encourage activity.
- Research shows that singing, drumming and dancing to music releases feel-good endorphins in the brain which raises mood.
- Movement or gentle exercise to music helps physical and mental health.
- Certain pieces of music or songs evoke different meaningful memories for people. If you can work out which pieces evoke joyful memories this becomes an important tool in helping to raise a person’s mood.
Playing Music for Dementia Therapy
m4d Radio is a free on-line radio channel. A group of 5 themed radio stations available 24 hours a day playing music that evokes memories. Option to choose your birth year to listen to the musical decade where powerful musical memories were made (i.e. our early teens through to late 20’s). 11am is Singalong hour.
Making your own Unique Music Playlist to accompany your own Unique Life
Music is everywhere and part of our lives. Your playlist of favourite music is as unique as you are. The web site Playlist for Life guides you through making our own musical playlist… your special songs to play whenever you like.
- 100 Years Book
- Spotify Playlists
- BBC Music Memories
These can all help you find tunes that are special for you. There are links on the Playlist for Life website to get onto these sites.
Music for Dementia Therapy on Youtube
YouTube is great too to find the songs you want. For example in your search engine (e.g. Google) on your computer or tablet – type an artist, or song name, or first line of the song/chorus, followed by the word YouTube. Press Go/Search and see what appears on your screen. There will usually be a whole page of videos or audios of songs for you to try and see if it is the song you had in mind.
If you want the lyrics on the song to sing along to, Type in the Search box again. Type the name of the song and add the words ‘with lyrics’. Press Go/Search. If there is a version of the song with on-screen lyrics it will appear on the page for you to select.
You can even buy a lead to play things onto the TV from your computer or tablet, especially of you have a flat screen TV. Take your tablet into an electrical store and they will help you. Or contact a family member/friend or AgeUK to see if they have a volunteer who can help you with this.
If you have a modern Smart-TV it may already have access to YouTube on it without needing to pipe it through from your tablet? Again, try to find someone who can help you with this.
Finding Music For Dementia Therapy Using Alexa (other brand names are available…)
This is a small piece of equipment that plugs in but needs access to a Wi-Fi signal (if you use a computer or tablet you probably have one of these at your house).
You can ask it anything and it will tell you the answer. eg. what time is it, what’s the weather doing, any question at all. If you ask it ‘Alexa, play a selection of songs from Elvis Presley’ or ‘Alexa, play songs from the 1960’s’ etc…. it will do so.
Make Your Own Song sheets For Favourite Songs
If you want to find lyrics and print them off to sing. Type in the Search Box the name of the song and artist followed by ‘Lyrics’ (do not type YouTube this time) and press Go/Search. A list of options will come up. Click one of them and see what comes up. Try a number of them to find the font, background etc that you like (the clearer the better). Then you can ‘cut and paste’ into your own document and print it out. Then you can make the font bigger if you want to, to make it easier to read.
Organisations Putting On Music Events
Normally there is access to local singing groups for example Alzheimer’s Society Singing for the Brain, Sing for your Life and Goldies to name a few.
But at the moment with COVID-19 Restrictions these have ceased. But there are some organisations showing Music Events or conducting Singalongs through the computer or tablet on Zoom.
Check and see if your usual Singalong Group is running any sessions over computer or tablet. The Alzheimer’s Singing for the Brain Group is.
The London Museum are running music for dementia therapy events aimed at people living with dementia. Most museums these days are getting better at putting on special events for people with dementia which is great.
This piece was written by Heather, one of our Memory Guides. Our team are not just experts in LifeStory work. You can find out more about them here.