Wherever and whenever possible, take the time to have a conversation with the person you are with to find out if they would like to experience some music. Is right now a good time for music or would another time be more appropriate?
Be a musical detective and find out what music is meaningful and significant to the individual. Be aware that their musical choices will be connected to past experiences, which may trigger memories.
Be mindful of the individual’s state of being and support choice making wherever and whenever possible. Try and offer a range of musical activities – what type of musical experience would be most beneficial and appropriate? Would an interactive group activity be stimulating and enlivening or would listening sensitively to a playlist be more appropriate?
There is a bank of resources available to help you bring music into the lives of people living with dementia. We hope these online toolkits will inspire and support you to bring music into the lives of the people you care for. It can be achieved on any budget, and the benefits can be remarkable for everyone involved.
- Toolkit for Musicians
- Toolkit for Care Homes
- Singing tutorials and tips for care staff
- Get started making a playlist
Remember that music can elicit whole body responses. Movement can support the integration of emotional, cognitive and physical aspects of an individual. It can increase endorphin levels, aiding relaxation and sense of wellbeing. Engaging people living with dementia in singing and movement can reduce agitated behaviours and help to redirect attention. Remember that minimal movements can be full of meaning and expression.
Be aware of the environment – too much background or environmental noise can be distracting and cause sensory over-stimulation. For example, switch off the TV if you’re also going to listen to recorded music or run a live, interactive session.
Familiar music can play a really important role but so too can unfamiliar music. Don’t limit someone’s sound world because of your likes and dislikes – try to keep an open ear.
Recorded music should be constant and not interrupted by commercials, news or commentary. This could cause confusion and disorientate the person listening to music.
Speak with the musicians coming into the care setting, ask if you can support them in their sessions and ask for tips on how to use music if you are unsure or would like to increase your skills and confidence with using music.
How do care staff feel about music?
Our very own Programme Director Grace Meadows is delighted to be participating in this year’s Caregiver Smile Summit, which is a virtual summit that provides everyday practical tips and solutions, for carers, that can be applied everyday. Grace will be discussing the power of music in dementia care via a video interview, which will be published on the 1 November 2019. The entire event is online so you will be able to stream videos with internet access on your phone, tablet, or computer. www.caregiversummit.org