The Liverpool-based Brain Charity has trialled its Music Makes Us! project on hundreds of care home residents. Dementia sufferers unable to talk have sung along with Elvis, while others who struggle to engage socially have danced to The Beatles. Experts say music activates different speech pathways in the brain, stimulates endorphins and transports dementia sufferers to happy past memories. Now the neurological charity has launched Music Makes Us! as a free 12-week online programme to be used by anyone in the world.
Kym Ward, the charity’s dementia project co-ordinator, explained: “We had already seen its incredible benefits first hand. Before Covid our care home workshops had helped hundreds of people living with dementia in Merseyside.
“It was truly remarkable to see how participants who had previously been non-verbal began to sing along – while those with severe dementia who struggled to engage with the world enjoyed moments of joyful connection through dance.
“We hope these videos will give easy access to this fantastic resource for households, care homes and people living with dementia.”
The pioneering programme is made up of five movement workshops and seven singing classes, all set to classic pop hits.
Combining dance and physio minimises the risk of falls and helps dementia sufferers stay independent by boosting mobility, maintaining balance and flexibility.
While blending singing with speech and language therapy strengthens mouth muscles, improves communication and reduces issues connected with swallowing and breathing.
Before the pandemic these sessions were running in care homes and community settings across Merseyside, helping around 250 residents.
Kym added: “The past year has been especially tough for people living with dementia.
“We also know music can play a vital role in their daily care – it stirs memories and reduces agitation.
“That’s why we are delighted to be releasing this free therapy series for people anywhere in the world to take part in. We hope it will be useful for loved ones at home, for residents in care homes and, when it’s safe again, in community settings.”
Anyone signing up receives one email a week containing a specialist exercise video and guidance on how to join in safely. There is a also version for people who do not identify as living with dementia but feel they might benefit from the programme.
Anyone interested in the videos should visit www.thebraincharity.org.uk/dementia. To donate to the charity, visit cafdonate.cafonline.org/10742#!/DonationDetails