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 experts and looking at previously compiled evidence.

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

One woman spoken to said that music is the one thing she can share with her 62-year-old husband, suffering from 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 one million by 2025, and two million by 2051. The current annual cost 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 dementia and improve brain function and information recall.”

MPs and peers in parliament will be presented with the findings, that warn only five per cent 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 music therapy, and the introduction an ambassador for dementia and music.

“The benefits 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 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 music,” reads the report.

Director 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 the creative arts being tapped into by researchers. This could really help us to understand any benefits music for people with dementia and other important points, such as how people can best access music.”

Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Staff Writer, follow him on

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