Playing a Musical Instrument Shines Light on Benefits for People Living with Dementia- Study Reveals

Results from a new study have revealed that care home residents living with dementia displayed signs of memory recall after playing the keyboard, as well as experiencing many other wellbeing benefits.

The research, by Casio Music UK in partnership with Music For Dementia and charitable care provider Methodist Homes (MHA), placed keyboards in homes for residents to use as part of its ‘Light Up My Life’ research initiative – a study exploring how music can positively impact people living with dementia.

The research project took place in some of MHA’s specialist dementia care homes nationwide over a six-month period. Casio provided lighting key keyboards to care homes to use in music therapy and music activity sessions that engaged over 100 residents living with dementia, to improve music participation and ultimately, enhance their quality of life. The sessions that took place were a mix of one-to-one sessions and group sessions, dependent on the structure of the care home. The key lighting technology meant that participants were able to simply follow the lights on the keyboard, which would guide them to the correct notes without any prior musical knowledge or previous piano playing experience. A range of well-known pieces of music were preloaded into the keyboards for residents to enjoy. This unique key lighting technology was fundamental to the overall core element of the ‘Light Up My Life’ campaign.

Upon completion of the music therapy or music activity sessions over the six month period, research was conducted in which 185 people, including residents living with dementia, music therapists and care home staff, were questioned on whether there was any clear improvement on a number of wellbeing and physical factors impacting the participants. A key finding revealed that the residents displayed improved signs of memory recall after playing the keyboard and producing a recognisable song – a statement that was supported by 79 per cent of music therapists and 64 per cent of care home staff. In addition, 95 per cent of music therapists and 71 per cent of care home staff were in agreement that playing the keyboard increased or enhanced opportunities for social interaction for the residents with staff and relatives.

The ‘Light Up My Life’ campaign follows on from the release of the Power of Music Report, co-authored by Music for Dementia and UK Music, earlier this year which sets out a framework for how we can harness the power of music to support health and wellbeing, particularly for those living with dementia.

A key goal of the ‘Light Up My Life’ research project was to gain a better understanding and insight into how the musical instruments, as part of a musical care plan, can better help those living with dementia at various stages of the condition – and the direct impact of the keyboards on the residents’ wellbeing was clearly evident. Over 70 per cent of music therapists saw a reduction in anxiety and depression amongst the residents, further supporting the evidence base that music therapy reduces the need for medication in 67 per cent* of people living with dementia. Care home staff who spend the most time with the residents reported a notable increase in the residents’ sense of fulfilment and achievement, as well as noting significant improvement in other areas such as calmness, agitation, confidence and willingness to participate in these music therapy or music activity sessions.

Furthermore, 95 per cent of the residents who participated reported that they were elated or felt happy after completing a song on the keyboard – a statement backed up by 86 per cent of music therapists. The sessions clearly enhanced the residents’ wellbeing.

Neil Evans, Head of Casio EMI, commented:
“We are pleased to announce the results of this important research project and proud to see how our keyboards have played a vital role in providing access to music therapy for care home residents living with dementia. We’re passionate about the role of music in care and hopeful that the research and learnings we are revealing today can be used as a springboard to accelerate and improve the accessibility of music and music therapy for those living with dementia and those who care for them, across the nation and worldwide. It’s clearly evident that the power of music can significantly enrich the quality of life for those living with dementia and their carers.”

Grace Meadows, Campaign Director at Music for Dementia, added:
“When Casio first approached us, we were thrilled with their passion to get involved with the work we are doing at Music for Dementia to raise awareness of the importance of music as an integral part of care for those living with dementia. The incredible results from the ‘Light Up My Life’ report really speak for themselves and further cements previous research on the unlimited power that music has to enhance the lives of those living with dementia and beyond. It’s innovative, creative initiatives such as ‘Light Up My Life’ which demonstrate how easy it can be for carers to make music a part of good dementia care. We would like to see this programme rolled out nationwide as a way of supporting carers to provide the best possible personalised care for those living with dementia.”

Dr Ming Hung Hsu, previous Music Therapy Lead at MHA, now Senior Research Fellow at ARU, said:
“Whilst working at MHA I was truly delighted to have been involved in this exciting project with Casio right from the very beginning. The value of this innovative partnership was clear from the start and I was excited to bring MHA on board. Although I am now in a new job role with Anglia Ruskin University, I continue to champion the ‘Light Up My Life’ vision.”

Clare Barone, Music Therapy Lead at MHA, added:
“We know from our work at MHA how important music is to the wellbeing of people living with dementia and this research with Casio and Music for Dementia has reinforced that. What we now need is for others caring for people with dementia to embrace tools such as the Casio light up key keyboards to give more people the best life possible.”

To read the full report, please visit www.casio.co.uk/emi/lightupmylife

 

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