For the patient, the disease can lead to feelings of frustration, fear, sadness and agitation. However, it has been found that music can assist in tapping into deep memories not lost to dementia and “reawaken” patients as a result.
One group that has been using music therapy successfully in Australia for more than 16 years is in-home care company Daughterly Care.
CEO Kate Lambert says she has seen the incredible effect music can have on people, even with severe dementia. “…They became more responsive – an effect that lasts even after the music has stopped. They regain a certain degree of cognitive function and, for a short time, are close to being the person they once were,” says Lambert.
“My advice to carers and family members … is to work with the person to find out their musical history, including key moments like the songs they enjoyed when first falling in love, first dance songs at weddings or favourite artists. Put together a soundtrack for them to use on an iPod. We’ve found songs from the ages of 18-24 years work best, but each person is different.”
While music assists people living with dementia to reconnect to their life and brings them definite joy, movement to their body and a smile to their face, it can, unfortunately, never be a cure.