Such a privilege to be able to include a guest blog from Beckie here.
Why is music so important for people living with dementia? Why is it important for older people? Or why is it important for people in general, no matter what age they are?
Music is a form of therapy; it has the power to strike any emotion, or change your mood. And there is no exception. We have all heard the research about how music is so important for people living with dementia. Music in your care home should be seen as a‘must-have’ rather than a ‘one-off special’. (Even if it’s not booking a session with us every day!) you can do easy and simple activities with your residents to ensure that they get their daily ‘musical fix’. Here are some tips to help you choose an appropriate repertoire of songs for your group:
Look at your age group – music from a persons late teens to 20s is the most memorable type of music; think back to your 20s, a time when you went out and had fun before settling down. This era reminds them of when they were young and carefree, and this era probably promotes the most positive musical memories.
Use a mixture of live and recorded music – It is important to use a variety of both, live music is unique and like no other, bringing a sense of well-being and belonging when singing/playing together in a group. Recorded music is also important as it brings back a nostalgia that you couldn’t re-create yourself – that lovely crackling sound of the recording and the original artist’s voice is a wonderful memory.
Combine music and movement – Music is there to be listened to, but also to be moved to! You would not believe how often a resident would like to get up and have a dance with you, so why not? If they are unable to get up, just staying in their chair and holding their hands whilst moving to the music also works. Why not try this? You will be amazed at the reaction you will get!
Music will make your residents calmer and happier – Turn off the TV! TV is socially isolating and you will find you have much happier residents if you play a nostalgic mix of music on your lounge CD player. You will notice people in the room will sing along, tap their feet, or move to music played on a CD, how often do you get this reaction from watching the TV?
Don’t worry about remembering the words! – Words are not always what the person will remember – it’s the melody that stays in your head. If you’re put off singing due to not really knowing the words, don’t worry! A simple ‘la’ along to the music is fine! And don’t worry about printing off song sheets, unless requested for, they’ll only get in the way and confuse some residents, as well as creating a distraction to the music.
The musical memory is the most powerful and strongest memory that is retained by the human brain – use this knowledge to your advantage and always have music playing in your home!