New research has revealed even more benefits of music therapy for people living with dementia

We already know that music can bring enormous comfort and enjoyment to anyone with dementia, but latest research in the US has shown that music has important psychiatric benefits too, particularly for those living in nursing homes.

A study of more than 25,000 residents in 196 nursing homes revealed that residents who were given a personal playlist containing carefully selected favourite music (uploaded to an iPod so they could listen to it with headphones) were ‘significantly more likely’ to no longer need anti-anxiety medication or anti-psychotic drugs.

For anyone who has watched the inspirational documentary Alive Inside this will come as no surprise. The documentary gave many powerful examples of how personalised music can help people with dementia - even those in the very late stages - to connect and communicate.

There’s also growing evidence that creating a personal playlist for your loved one with dementia could have significant impact on their mood, awareness, identity and ability to think.

So if you haven’t created one already, here’s a few ideas to help you get started:

Carer Tips

1. If you’re not sure what music to include, research suggests that the most potent period for musical memories is from the mid-teens to early twenties, so this could be a good place to start.

2. Make sure to select particularly meaningful songs (not whole albums) and include a mix of calm, soothing music, to help relax and unwind, and more upbeat tunes to help motivate and stimulate. If you’re not sure whether the music you’ve chosen will be meaningful or not, just play it to them first and watch their reaction.

3. If your loved one doesn’t like using headphones, (some people with dementia find them uncomfortable and try to take them off) you could upload their personalised playlist to our Simple Music Player instead. Click here to find out more.

4. If you’re still not convinced of the power of music, watch the award-winning documentary Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory, available on Netflix.