Sometimes, hearing a piece of music can take us right back to a certain time in our lives just as effectively as an old photograph can. For someone living with dementia, anything that prompts the recall of long term memories can be excellent for reminiscence therapy and music is no exception.
Last year we reported how the BBC had launched its Reminiscence Archive (RemArc) to allow people with dementia to watch their old favourite TV shows from as far back as the 1930s. Well, now they have done the same thing but with music. The power of music prompting positive emotional responses is well documented and it’s as relevant to people with dementia as anyone else yet despite this and the known therapeutic benefits of nostalgia, only 5% of care homes in the UK provide good quality music programmes.
The BBC has collaborated with the charity Playlist for Life to create the BBC Music Memories website. Just as with the RemArc website, you can search for music by decade and by genre, even going back as far as the 1920s. You can also create ‘favourites’ allowing people to create personal playlists that they can listen to time and again. These playlists can even be shared with some basic demographic info, allowing carers to identify patterns and the most popular songs for each age range, background and regional area. Here's some further information from the BBC.
There is a theory known as the “memory bump” which is that the music we hear as we emerge from young childhood, and become capable of independent thought and beyond, carries more emotional resonance than any other. This has largely been identified as being between the ages of 10-30. Playing music from this era in people’s lives has the potential to really engage with them which could see a range of outcomes from simply being more happy to encouraging people to share their memories.
It’s certainly true that memories can be stimulated by a variety of senses including visually, aurally and even olfactory so this should be a welcome development for any dementia environment.
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