Music and dementia support
‘With the right music, you either forget everything or you remember everything’, a famous quote of unknown origin tells us.
It’s a fascinating idea, though it’s music’s power to evoke – and timeless ability to bring people together – that’s being utilised in dementia support at Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre, part of Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire.
A life changed
"A diagnosis of dementia really overwhelms people,” explains Professor Dawn Brooker, Director of University of Worcester Association for Dementia Studies. “It impacts on their self-image, their relationships with other people, and their confidence.”
"It’s a dreadful thing when it happens to you,” says Jeff Mayes, a regular visitor to the centre, on receiving the diagnosis. Jeff was a Flight Lieutenant who travelled the world as part of the RAF, and an enthusiastic public speaker who conducted lectures at a technical college. “I started to get dementia and everything went down from there. You feel as though you’ve got nothing left, but this place has given me a purpose.”
New ways to help people live well with dementia
“Music is something that’s a staple with dementia support, and we use it a lot within meeting centres,” says Professor Brooker. Everything that happens helps people to build their confidence, to feel less overwhelmed, to feel less lonely and less isolated.”
“All of our work is about trying to work at [the] cutting edge, trying to find evidence-based practical ways that help people live well with dementia,” continues Professor Brooker, citing sessions like this as examples of these learnings in progress.
In our video, you’ll witness an example of one of these sessions in action: a lady playing the cello invites the older people in the group to play along with the variety of rhythm instruments available, while encouraging them to discuss the memories and reactions the music provokes.
Experiencing the benefits
“You don’t feel out of it,” reveals Jeff of the inclusive nature of the sessions. “You can join in with whatever’s going on and have a good time. The people [at the centre] are so good. They’re there to look after you, but they keep the spirit going all the time. It’s a very happy place.”
“I don’t know how I’d manage if I didn’t have this place to come to,” continues Jeff. “It fills a big hole in my life.”
Learn more about dementia, caring for someone with dementia and planning for the future with our dedicated section.