In these troubling times it is always heartening to come across a new initiative aimed at making lives easier for those living with dementia. So we were thrilled to come across the newly launched ‘Music & Dementia at the BBC’, a project that sees the BBC collaborating with more than 100 organisations to help bring music to people living with dementia.
The initiative recognises that music has the unique power to unlock memories helping people to connect with their families, friends and carers. The BBC has been creating an impressive dementia-friendly resource for some years now; last year its work inspired more than 800 events across the UK, from pop-up nightclubs and raves at care homes to intergenerational singing sessions, all celebrating the power of music to change lives.
From the website, those with dementia and their carers can access a range of resources including playlists with old-time music, articles written about the subject, first-hand experiences and links to organisations and charities with a particular focus on the arts and dementia.
They are also listing useful guides for our current situation, living with coronavirus. We particularly liked this guide to using music to keep connected during social isolation – download it here. Tips include making personal playlists based on your knowledge of your loved ones’ likes, and a website that can help you figure out the name of a song if you know some lyrics but can’t remember what it’s called!
A key part of the project is the BBC Music Memories website, which features almost 3,000 free, 30-second music clips to stimulate memory through music. It helps families, friends and carers support people living with dementia to identify personally meaningful music and create playlists.
The multi-award-winning musician Nile Rodgers is an ambassador for the project; his mother has lived with dementia for more than 15 years. Rodgers has personal experience of the power of music over dementia. ‘“Every time we passed any kind of shop that was playing music, my mother would start to sing,” he said. “Anything that was old, she knew perfectly. So a Frank Sinatra song would come on, or Diana Ross or Barbra Streisand. My mom just nailed it. It was incredible.”
Check out everything that’s on offer at this invaluable website here
Ive just watched BBC news, hearing about what music does for the brain. At the age of 13 I suffered encephalitis, and came out of the coma having lost my memory. As I couldn’t look forwards , unable recall my past, and couldn’t hold onto imformation, life become ongoing dark moment. It was like being in a furry grey cardboard box.If told anything it evaporated. I recognised my family, but friends and other people who l should have recognised I now didn’t know. I couldn’t put names to faces which was a massive hindrance. But what I did find extremely positive and amazing was the power of music. Hearing others around me chat was just a grey drone. Hearing the sound of music put powerful light and shade into the moment, stimulatig joy and possitive adrenaline. What’s happened now is I’ve become strongly aware of how music is another language, which anyone can partake in, whether it means just listening , or joining the rhythm section clapping, or using a drum , creating notes and singing . I’ve realised how much Jazz proves that. Four musicians can meet up, all from different countries, unable to chat and understand one another talking. Yet they can pick up their various instruments and become one, playing in harmony! For dementia, hearing music means a grey and furry tunnel vision lights up, and the person can look out and around.
My neurologist got in touch with a professor in London, and I was prescribed Donepozil. My memory is still mproving massively. I don’t have to go so far round the houses to get from a-b with thought. As l said at the beginning, music opens up the brain and puts colourful light and shade into the moment. For some people varied music is suitable, for others just one style ie- classical, rock, jazz. We are all different in our likes and dislikes. Music has different flavours!
Your comment resonated with me and made me realise that as a part time
musician (Drummer) I/our band have the power to be able to help people.
I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences, my Father has Dementia at the moment and I’ve had a Liver transplant due to Crohn’s disease (Primary sclerosing cholangitis), so I know what encephalopathy is and suffered from it once through organ rejection. I can empathise with you.
If you do read this comment I want you to know that I am going to speak to our band members to see if we should do a ministry into retirement homes / Dementia homes. I just want you to know that you have inspired me to think about this.
I’m a Welshman living in Centurion (Near Pretoria) in South Africa +-40 years. My friends/band members are English and Afrikaans speaking South Africans.
Facebook Band link: https://www.facebook.com/simplyrhythmicband