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Why does music work in dementia care?

by Deb Bartlett

Room 217 Foundation has been a leader in the use of music as an important part of caregiving. Though the roots of the Foundation are music for palliative care, many of the products we’ve created are for use with older adults, including the Pathways Singing Program, designed for people with dementia. In the four years since Pathways launched at our 2015 Music Care Conference, it’s been purchased by family members, long-term care homes, retirement residences, and adult day programs, to enhance the lives of older adults through singing.

The film Alive Inside brought to the fore the power of music in helping to reach people living with dementia. The work of Dan Cohen and his work with Music and Memory has been spreading since the film’s release. I mean, who hasn’t seen the famous clip of Henry who appears to wake up when listening to his favourite music? Since then, many caregivers (professional and family) have turned to music as a cost-effective way to give person-centred, relational care.

But why does music work so well in dementia care? We’ll point you to a column in McKnight’s Senior Living that Bev wrote, in which she outlines why music is a natural choice to support people living with dementia.

Do you have your own singing and dementia story to share? We’d love to hear from you! Email Deb with some details, and maybe you and your story can be featured here.