Dementia is rapidly becoming the health and social care challenge of the 21st century.
Music not only stirs our deepest emotions, but active participation can increase energy and vigour to see us through the most stress-filled life experiences.
Billy Joel says “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”
The modern method of using music to heal, called “music therapy,” was born after World War II when physicians and nurses in veterans hospitals noticed their patients improved after listening to music.
Just how the brain and body process music remains mysterious but we know music is processed on many levels at once. Music that has personal significance to someone or is connected with historical events is a strong stimulus to engage responses in people, even in late stages of dementia. Even if they’re not necessarily able to tell you what the song is, they are able to be moved and feel the associations.
- It is estimated that 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This will soar to 2 million by 2051.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62 per cent of those diagnosed.
- Two thirds of the cost of dementia is paid by people with dementia and their families.
- Unpaid carers supporting someone with dementia save the economy £11 billion a year.