Actress Vicky McClure from Line of Duty fame has shown the huge impact music can have on people living with dementia in a poignant BBC documentary, where she puts together a choir made up of people with dementia aged from 31 to 87.
Vicky McClure’s gran was diagnosed with vascular dementia at the age of 75, and lived with the disease until her death in 2015. Inspired by her memory, Vicky ipresented a moving two-part documentary: Vicky McClure: Our Dementia Choir, swhich started on BBC One on Thursday 2 May
Together with specialists from the fields of medicine, music therapy, and performance, Vicky formed a special choir formed of 20 singers who are living with dementia.
In the second episode of the programme, aired on 9 May, we saw them come together to give one amazing performance to 2,000 people in Nottingham.
The power of music for people with dementia
Many people have a special connection to music, and this can be particularly powerful for people with dementia. Evidence suggests music can improve someone’s mood, behaviour and wellbeing.
Listening to favourite songs can bring back old memories and feelings. Many people with dementia are still able to enjoy music and to sing even when they start to lose their language abilities.
While the search for a cure continues, we all must work together to support people affected by dementia today so they can live meaningful lives. Music is a wonderful way to do this.
Research shows that musical memory is often retained when other memories are lost; music can help people to recall memories due to the nature of preserved memory for song and music in the brain.
‘Being part of this experience and as an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador, I have seen how singing can help people with dementia communicate, improve their mood and leave them feeling good about themselves.’
– Vicky McClure
There are lots of ways for people with dementia to enjoy the power of music. For instance, there are programmes bringing live music to hospitals. You can also buy special radios and music players designed for people who have dementia. There’s also a charity called Playlist for Life, which encourages people with dementia and their friends and family to make a playlist of music which is special to them.
Alzheimer’s Society is a founder organisation of Music for Dementia 2020 and an adviser for BBC Music Day, both of which aim to bring music to everyone affected by dementia.