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New dementia and music report launches at House of Lords

Published: 18 January 2018 at 14:32

Psychedelic drawing of people standing around a gazebo

A new report has been published at the House of Lords, summarising the work of the Commission on Dementia and Music, set up and coordinated by ILC-UK, with support from The Utley Foundation.

With the number of people living with dementia in the UK expected to reach one million by 2025, this is a hugely important issue for society as a whole, and CIMTR are proud to be a part of the Commission through our Director, Helen Odell-Miller OBE, and have the opportunity to share our research, including a local collaborative project ‘Together in Sound’ led in partnership with Saffron Hall.

What would life be - without a song or dance, what are we?

The report provides a unique exploration of the existing ecosystem of music for people with dementia and brings together for the first time a wide range of evidence, including academic papers and written and oral evidence. Site visits to observe projects in action were also fundamental in bringing to light the value of this field of work.

The evidence shows that music helps to minimise some of the symptoms of dementia, such as agitation, and can help to tackle anxiety and depression. We can also observe the considerable value of music in improving the quality of life for people with dementia, by helping to increase social interaction and decreasing stress hormones.

Meanwhile, evidence suggests that there is a ‘memory bump’ for music. It appears that people with dementia retain the clearest memories for music they enjoyed and heard between roughly the ages of 10 and 30. This valuable insight offers us the opportunity to connect with loved ones with dementia, by understanding what might be most meaningful for them.

We are calling on the music industry, the public sector, clinicians, charities, the technology sector and others to recognise and champion the right of people with dementia to have access to music. We also want to raise public awareness about how music can be used to bring about valuable benefits and improve the lives of people with dementia.