In tune to help dementia sufferers

03 September 2019 | West and South West England

Singing For The Brain

Music sessions boost memory and help fight isolation

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of dementia is seeing a loved one slowly lose the memories that were once an essential part of who they were.

But music can help unlock those precious memories, and for a time at least, revive personalities that appeared to be lost forever.

Now a brilliant project is helping sufferers and their families harness the benefits of music, as well as helping them to meet others in the same situation as them.

Called Singing for the Brain, it was developed by the Alzheimer’s Society, and provides a novel way for people with dementia, along with their carers, to express themselves and interact creatively with others.

Singing has been proven to help with articulation, concentration, focus and motivation.

Singing for the Brain sessions usually feature vocal, rhythmic exercises, along with songs from different eras and styles.

Sharon Cooper, Alzheimer’s Society services manager for Bristol says: “From talking to people with dementia at our Singing for the Brain groups, we know the positive effect that music can have. People who may be quiet or reserved can be transformed when they hear a song they recognise – joining in singing and even having a dance.

“I have seen this first-hand; there was a woman who was very uncommunicative at the start of a session, but when we started singing, and using instruments, her face lit up and she started smiling. That was an absolute pleasure to see.

“Further research is needed to help understand the longer-term effects of music, and help show that it’s not only drugs that can help people living with dementia.

“It’s so important to still include people with dementia in social activities – no one should have to face it alone. We want everyone affected by dementia to know that whoever you are, whatever you are going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society for support, help and advice.”

She adds: “The potential of the creative arts being tapped into by researchers. This could really help us to understand any benefits of music for people with dementia and other important points, such as how people can best access music.”

Irene, a dementia sufferer who has been taking part, says: “I love Singing for the Brain which I call singing for the soul. The group lets me meet other people with dementia, which makes me feel that I am not so different after all.”

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