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Singing an improvised tune with piano accompaniment, Mary* is almost unrecognisable. Relaxed and joyous, there is no sign of her usual stress and anxiety. This is how music therapy is helping her, and hundreds of other people living with dementia, in MHA’s care homes.

 

We have been seeing these benefits for years, ever since we first started providing music therapy in 2008. As our Lead Music Therapist, Ming Hung Hsu, put it: “Some people with advanced dementia might be able to play an instrument or sing, even if they can’t speak. And with those whose dementia is not so advanced, the music can stimulate them. Residents may have problems that mean they cannot use words, but in music therapy they play and you can see what they are thinking.”

 

It’s not until you lose the power of speech that you realise what a crucial element it is for self expression and communication with others. It is one reason why people living with dementia often experience fear and anxiety in their daily lives. But with music therapy, we can provide an alternative, non-verbal method of engagement and creativity and no musical experience or expertise is necessary. In Mary’s case, music therapy helped to relieve her stress and anxiety to the point where she could begin to discuss her fears.

 

MHA is even embarking on research, along with Anglia Ruskin University, based on the hypothesis that music therapy can improve quality of life for people living with dementia, as we see it happen every day. If you would like to make a donation towards providing music therapy for people living with dementia, log on to www.mha.org.uk.

 

 

Carol Artis

Group Director – Operations

 

*Name changed to protect privacy

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