Psychologist Dr Lynda Shaw is calling for care homes to regularly use music to boost the brain function of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and as a form of entertainment and enjoyment for their cross-section of residents.
Following recent reports that singing songs from hit musicals can boost the brain function of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, care home expert, Dr Shaw is calling for care homes to be more aware of the benefits of music for all of their residents.
“I have been visiting many care homes across the UK and have seen the benefits of music first hand. In the first instance we know music is soothing, but of course it is also invigorating and can positively affect our moods. We also know that musical ability and enjoyment are two of the longest lasting skills in Alzheimer’s patients. What is new is the research coming out that older people suffering from dementia may improve through the effects of music.”
Researchers found regular group singing sessions including classic numbers from the likes of The Sound Of Music helped residents at a U.S. care home improve mental performance. The most striking effect was seen in people suffering moderate to severe dementia, with participants scoring higher on cognitive and drawing tests while others who came to the sessions but only to listen showed no improvement. Patients also gave more positive responses to a satisfaction with life questionnaire at the end of the four-month study. (Linda Maguire, of George Mason University in Virginia).
Listening and singing to music involves regions of the brain for auditory and emotional processing, motor systems, musical memory, the imagination, perception and even our nervous system. Shaw believes there is no doubt that we are musical creatures.
Shaw continues: “Music as a provision is cheap, entertaining and highly social generally. It is also engaging whatever your difficulties. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if care home residents were able to enjoy uplifting group singing on a daily basis, singing songs that would be familiar to most of them. To think that it might also help with dementia means we can’t afford to ignore the additional potential benefits.”