JAM JAR ARMY: The therapeutic benefits of music for older people

Jam Jar Army
Jam Jar Army

Abbeyfield is training more than 200 members of our care staff and volunteers across the country to become music detectives, who will then help piece together music, songs, hymns and theme tunes that have significant meaning for our residents who are living with dementia, writes Sally Brewis.

There is growing research from around the world which reveals that personally meaningful music has the potential to ease dementia symptoms, including anxiety, agitation and depression, and also help to recall memories and reduce the need for medication.

The Abbeyfield Making Music project uses tools and training developed by registered charity Playlist for Life, which is working to ensure everyone with dementia has access to a personal playlist to make life easier and happier for them and their carers. We will be looking at how to introduce this to our residents in Abbeyfield House in Alnwick who do live with dementia.

But as human beings, music plays a fundamental role in our identity, culture, heritage and spiritual beliefs. It is a powerful medium which can affect us all deeply. It can stir memories and powerfully resonate with our feelings, helping us to express them and communicate with others.

Music can help to promote social interaction such as turn-taking, eye-contact, give an older person the opportunity to reminisce through the use of song and talking, aid relaxation, encourage the expression of intense feelings such as anger, frustration and sadness, and enhance exploratory and creative abilities.

We regularly have sing alongs, concerts and services at Abbeyfield House. If you would like to get involved, please contact the house on 01665 604876.