Music Therapy for Dementia

Written by Active Minds on Tuesday the 29th of December 2015.


When it comes to the brain, music is incredibly powerful. Hearing – and the auditory part of the brain – is one of the first senses to fully develop, meaning that we can remember sounds and songs from our childhood long before we even learned how to communicate.

The power of music is not lost on the dementia care world, and more and more care professionals are now turning to music therapy to help people living with dementia.

Run by music students, therapists, or specialist groups such as Golden Oldies, Lost Chord, Music in Mind, and the Alzheimer’s Society’s Singing for the Brain, music therapy sessions usually involve group activities such as singalongs and percussive sessions.

The therapists involved say that the sessions are helpful in many ways when it comes to dementia. Not only does the music involved have the ability to stir memories even in very late stage dementia patients, the act of enjoying something together in a group also helps people to interact, communicate, and have fun with others – vital social activities that help to work against feelings of loneliness, exclusion, and depression.

As a result of music therapy, carers have reported some incredible and inspiring outcomes. Dementia patients are said to have improved moods and reduced agitation after therapy sessions while those in the very late stages of the condition, who have lost the ability to communicate or move around very easily, will often lift their heads and engage with others for the first time in a very long period of inactivity. One music therapist even remembers a lady who had once been an organ player but who had now lost the ability to speak or recognise anyone. Upon hearing someone singing a favourite hymn, the therapist recalls, the lady was able to sit at a piano and accompany the singer perfectly.

If you’re interested in learning more about music therapy for your loved one with dementia, here are some useful links to check out:

Music for Life

Lost Chord

Singing for the Brain

Live Music Now