Music and Memory



At The Daily Sparkle we have always been huge advocates of the power of music to awaken memories, help people make connections and to stimulate and delight. You only have to watch some of the incredible videos available online to see how songs from the past can allow a person with dementia who has retreated deep inside themselves to emerge for a time – for some it brings a smile, a recollection of a moment, it can even help those who have struggled with speech for some time find words.

A few weekends ago the world’s first World Rocks Against Dementia took place – an extraordinary global endeavour by the UK’s very own Norms McNamara, who is living with dementia, while raising awareness, funds and support for those living and working with dementia. Across the world in numerous different countries and communities, concerts and music were performed simultaneously, sharing the message that music has such power to transform the lives and experiences of those with dementia.

And right now, on a special pop-up station, the BBC is running a four day dedicated 1950s radio programme, featuring nothing but songs, artists and music from the 50s. From 14-19 April, the likes of Clare Teal and Leo Green take listeners through the best-loved music from the era, as well as reminding listeners of those long-forgotten tracks they used to love. There will be programmes on fifties jazz, fifties love songs and fifties country tunes; you can hear music from James Dean, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent and Gary Williams, and music fans will share their most precious music and memorabilia from the era. It is set to be the most wonderful four days and a real chance for reminiscence and shared memories for so many people. For help with planning activities around the various programmes, and to make sure your residents don’t miss anything, see the whole schedule here.

At The Daily Sparkle we have always been huge advocates of the power of music to awaken memories, help people make connections and to stimulate and delight.

You only have to watch some of the incredible videos available online to see how songs from the past can allow a person with dementia who has retreated deep inside themselves to emerge for a time – for some it brings a smile, a recollection of a moment, it can even help those who have struggled with speech for some time find words.

This staggering video shows a man who is usually in a vegetative state brought back into the world, after hearing music from his youth. It is a heart-warming and powerful sight.

While this video, one of our favourites, tells the story of Gladys, whose dementia has left her non-verbal and unresponsive for years. When a lady who has worked with her for some time starts singing gospel songs to her, the effect is quite extraordinary.

And finally, this video showcases the work of a project called The Power of Music and Dementia, which brought together neurologist Oliver Sacks, an entrepreneurial group which included singer Beatie Wolfe and a research team who performed at a series of care homes across the UK, in order to assess the patients' reactions to music; both during a live performance and in the weeks following. You can find out more about the project and their findings, here.

Music is such an important part of dementia care and activities, which is why we work hard to ensure every single Daily Sparkle features at least one musical source of inspiration for residents – be it a ‘Fill in the Blanks’ quiz, a ‘Name that Tune’ game, a feature on a great musician from the past, with fun facts and trivia which residents can share and discuss, or even old playground and childhood songs. Our accompanying CDs feature extra musical inspiration for any appropriate topics, and these then allow activities co-ordinators to plan full musical sessions. As one of our activity co-ordinators said recently: “The best time of the week I singing together. There is no doubt that music is the single most stimulating activity for those with dementia. It's the session that brings the most lovely surprises. Folk who seldom speak sing entire verses and many memories are triggered.”

This article first appeared on The Daily Sparkle. Read it, and more, here.

#TheDailySparkle #Music #1950sRadioProgramme #DementiaVideos #WorldRockAgainstDemenitaPAWRAD16

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