Ever get chills listening to a particularly moving piece of music? You can thank the salience network of your brain for that wave of emotion. Surprisingly, the part of our brain that appreciates music is spared from the memory losses usually associated with dementia.
Listening to music is a key part of life that most of us take for granted. We know it can alter our moods and trigger memories, but for the 850,000 people in the UK who live with dementia, listening to music helps not just with recall, but has measurable medical benefits, too. It can help reduce anxiety and depression and helps with speech and language too.
Frome Nursing Home, use music as part of their care for up to 60 people who live with dementia. Whether being taken out to see a singing group or listening to mp3 players with comfortable headphones, access to music is seen as therapeutic.
When songs are heard that can be remembered from a listener’s youth, he or she are often compelled to join in.
79 year old Emma Tanner, from Frome Nursing Home, says music is her thread of life. She’s from a musical family and leant to play guitar and organ and regularly sang at Church events with her siblings. Her son, Trever Tanner, grew up to be a professional musician with post punk band, The Bolshoi.
Emma describes music as her comforter and says, “If I feel fed up, I pick up my guitar and start playing and all’s right again.” She says she carries songs in her head the whole time.
For those in the later stages of dementia, when communicating can be very difficult, music is an anchor, grounding the listener back into reality because music stimulates parts of the brain that other treatments fail to reach. Frome Nursing Home encourages music, as it helps ensure the listeners are happier, whether they have dementia or not.