Tag Archives: music


Music can be an Amazing Therapy for Dementia

Dementia and Music

In my experience music can reach many individuals who suffer from dementia in a very special way.

We asked families to tell us the resident’s favourite music which we recorded onto an ipod, the music was specifically chosen for them.

For some residents it had a remarkable effect.

For one gentleman who had very little interaction with his wife or carers, and very little interest in anything it gave him a real interest in something. He was much more expressive and animated, and he started communicating with everyone.

His wife admitted that when she was first asked to try this, she was really sceptical.

She said that she could not believe the difference in her husband, he was much more happy, he showed a real interest in everything and his quality of life improved dramatically due to the music.

An improved or good quality of life for any elderly person should be every nurses or carer’s goal.

Music has dramatically improved many resident’s quality of life, It has been wonderful for the person and very special for their families.

Music has power especially for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

It can spark compelling outcomes even in the very late stages of the disease.

When used appropriately, music has the power to change mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.

This happens because rhythmic and other well-rehearsed responses require little to no cognitive or mental processing.

A person’s ability to engage in music, particularly rhythm playing and singing, remains intact late into the disease process because, again, these activities do not mandate cognitive functioning for success.

Most people associate music with important events and a wide array of emotions.

The connection can be so strong that hearing a tune can evoke a memory of the event and take the person back to that time and place.

Prior experience with the piece is the greatest indicator of an individual’s likely response.

Music that is soothing for one person may remind another of the loss of a loved one and be tragically sad.

If the links with the music are unknown, it is difficult to predict an individual’s response.

Therefore, observe a person’s reaction to a particular arrangement and discontinue it if it evokes distress, such as agitation, facial grimaces or increasing muscular tension.

It is such a simple idea but is really worth trying as it can make a difference.

Click here for a person centred Nursing Care Plan for dementia.

Schoolboy’s heartbreaking song about grandma’s struggle with dementia

A 15-year-old schoolboy has released a heartbreaking song in honour of his grandma, Maureen McGuinness, who is living with dementia.

Harry Gardner, from Essex, wrote the song after visiting his 76-year-old grandma who had deteriorated rapidly with Alzheimer’s disease.

Harry is hoping to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK

Maureen is currently being cared for at home by Harry’s granddad Owen.

Harry uploaded the song and music video to his YouTube channel, and the video has so far had more than 54,000 views.

“Song for Alzheimers” can be purchased via Amazon Music and iTunes with all proceeds going to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

He lives with his mum Gail and his dad John and siblings Molly, 17, Oliver, 13, and Gene, eight, at their home in Chelmsford, and filmed the video for the song just up the road at the stately home Hylands House.

Harry also has a fundraising page where you can donate, which can be accessed here.

Source The Telegraph

Dementia -What Every Carer Should Experience to Give Them Understanding

What do people with dementia hear, see and feel?

Every person is unique and the way dementia affects them is different.

Physical Changes

A recent training session delivered by the nursing department of the West of Scotland University, gave me a real insight as to what it was like. Absolutely terrifying, frustrating, and exhausting!

Difficulty with dexterity, clumsy, arthritic

We had to put on latex gloves and had our fingers taped together to give us an idea of what it can be like to have arthritis and changes in dexterity.

Visual changes, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts

We had to put on goggles which really changed the way you could see.

Auditory noise, incessant jabbering

We had to put on earphones which had a constant jabbering noise sound resonating through them.

It was impossible to function with all the noise and difficulties. The noise was particularly distracting.

The noise was so irritating and annoying and it was totally impossible to concentrate.

All the staff who took part in the training were upset by how little they understood what living with dementia was like.

This video shows how difficult it can be to live with dementia.  


All carers would care differently and much more sympathetically if they had this training.

It would give them a real understanding of exactly what a person with dementia experiences.

Click here for  our Nursing Care Plans for a person with Dementia


We have always been tried to be innovative in our approach to caring for the elderly.

Music for everyone can be extremely therapeutic whether it be calming, or uplifting.

YouTube has a wonderful video showing the effect listening to music on an ipod has on a person with dementia.

With the help of families and relatives we have uploaded music personal to individual residents and we have seen incredible improvements in people with dementia.

It actually can be miraculous for some people, and can really improve their quality of life in a way you would not think possible.

What effect does music have on a person with dementia?

  • It can quieten the incessant noise 
  • It can bring back memories of happy times and feelings 
  • It can take up a persons attention for a time
  • It can stop for a time anxiety and worry 
Whatever it actually does, it really helps some people.


Massage has been used for centuries to heal, relax, revitalise and comfort. 

Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being.

The inhaled aroma from these “essential” oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Aromatherapy can provide pain relief, mood enhancement, and increased cognitive function.

Aromatherapy is one of the most successful alternative therapies for some elderly people with dementia.  
What is remarkable is that all of the treatments resulted in significant benefit, including, in most instances, reductions in agitation, sleeplessness, wandering, and unsociable behaviour.

For many elderly people the physical touch during massage, and the one to one attention is comforting and calming.

Click here to read the full report published by Alzheimer’s Society Research on Aromatherapy for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Listening to music before and after surgery relieves pain and anxiety

Patients undergoing surgery should be allowed to listen to music before, after and during their operations because it is so effective at relieving pain, researchers have suggested.

A new study by Brunel University and Queen Mary University of London found that people who were allowed to relax to their favourite tunes saw their pain levels drop by two points on a scale of one to 10 while they needed less medication to feel comfortable.

The study of 7,000 surgical patients also found music made them less anxious and more likely to feel satisfied by the procedure.

Surprisingly, even listening to music while under general anaesthetic reduced patients’ levels of pain, although the effects were larger when patients were conscious.

“Around 4.6 million in England each year and music is a non-invasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery,” said lead author Dr Catherine Meads from Brunel University

“Patients should be allowed to choose the type of music they would like to hear to maximise the benefit to their wellbeing. However, care needs to be taken that music does not interfere with the medical team’s communication.”

The study follows a recent research that found patients are being put at risk by surgeons who listen to music while operating.

An analysis of 20 operations by Imperial College London found that nurses struggle to hear what equipment was being asked for while anaesthetists mistook the beat of the music for patient’s pulse rate.

However, for patients themselves, it appears that music can have a major impact, and could save the NHS millions in pain relieving drugs.

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Paul Glasziou from Bond University, Queensland, Australia says, “Music is a simple and cheap intervention, which reduces transient discomforts for many patients undergoing surgery.

“A drug with similar effects might generate substantial marketing…The very high heterogeneity…of effects among trials in the accompanying study highlights a research opportunity—to identify how to maximise the effect.”

The research was published in The Lancet.

Source The Telegraph

Turn the music down, doctor! Background noise during operations found to be causing serious communication problems between medical staff

Background music during operations is causing serious communications breakdowns between medical staff, according to new research.
Surgeons were found to be five times more likely to have to repeat requests for medical instruments when a soundtrack was played in theatre.
Around 70 per cent of operations are performed with music playing in the background – with drum and base surprisingly popular among staff – contrary to common perceptions that surgeons perform to the sound of calm classical music.
But a team of researchers from two top London universities recorded footage of 20 operations in the 
UK which revealed disturbing problems such as surgeons having to repeat requests for instruments as well as tension over the choice of soundtrack. 
The report suggests communication within theatre teams can be impaired by music.
Music was first introduced into operating theatres in 1914 to reduce anxiety in patients.
Now, patients are placed under anaesthetic outside the theatre and music is routinely played for the benefit of clinical staff.
New theatre suites are often equipped with docking stations and MP3 players and portable speakers are routinely used during operations.
Researchers placed multiple cameras placed at strategic points in operating theatres. Twenty operations were analysed, 70 per cent of which had music playing.
How the music was played and controlled was also highlighted as an issue. If playback volume from digital sources was not standardised, volume could increase without warning when a track changes.
Staff were seen to occasionally turn up a popular song, leading to a sudden increase in volume that could mask instructions and other verbal communications.
The study has been published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Author Dr Terhi Korkiakangas, from University College London said: ‘In the operating theatres we observed, it was usually the senior medics of the team who made the decision about background music.
‘Without a standard practice of the team deciding together, it is left up to junior staff and nurses to speak up and challenge the decisions of senior doctors, which can be extremely daunting.’
Dr Korkiakangas continued: ‘Public perception of music in operating theatres is shaped by media portrayals of surgical teams always working to a background of smooth music. We found that often dance and drum and bass were played fairly loudly.’
Author and PhD candidate Sharon-Marie Weldon, from Imperial College London, said: ‘Music can be helpful to staff working in operating theatres where there is often a lot of background noise, as well as other distractions – it can improve concentration.
‘That said, we’d like to see a more considered approach, with much more discussion or negotiation over whether music is played, the type of music, and volume, within the operating teams.’ 
The study comes after previous research found playing music actually inhibits concentration.
A study by Cardiff University found university students who listened to their tunes while trying to memorise a list of letters fared worse than those who worked in silence. 
Listening to music – including tunes that they liked – hampered their recall, researchers found. 
However, a US study published last week revealed doctors who listened to their favourite songs while performing a set procedure, had better surgical technique and efficiency.
That is, their stitches were better and faster. 
Source Mail Online

Playing a musical instrument may lower dementia risk

Playing a musical instrument may lower the risk of dementia, according to research.

A study based on twins found that those who were able to make music had a one-third lower risk of developing the condition.

Researchers said little analysis had been carried out of the effects of playing an instrument as a leisure activity on dementia, with one of the problems having been the differences in the genetic backgrounds of participants.

By studying 157 sets of twins, the researchers were able to more accurately investigate the links between music and dementia, because identical twins share 100 per cent of their genetic makeup and dizygotic, or non-identical, twins, 50 per cent on average.

The study involved twins where only one had dementia, which enabled the researchers to track down risk factors unique to the twin with the disease, as well as protective factors exclusive to the healthy twin.

After taking into account sex, education, and physical activity, twins who played a musical instrument in older adulthood were 36 per cent less likely to develop dementia and cognitive impairment.

“Despite sharing numerous genetic propensities and environmental exposures during formative developmental years, dissimilarities in music engagement were associated with differences in dementia occurrence within twin pairs, and the association is not explained by education or physical activity,” said the researchers from the University of California, writing in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s disease.

Just how playing an instrument could have such an effect is unclear, but one theory is that it enhances so-called cognitive reserve, the brain’s ability to be resilient in the face of attack.

Some research has shown that greater education may delay the onset of dementia. Music processing involves a large number of brain regions. 

Source The Telegraph

Childhood music lessons ‘leave lasting brain boost’

Learning a musical instrument as a child gives the brain a boost that lasts long into adult life, say scientists.

Adults who used to play an instrument, even if they have not done so in decades, have a faster brain response to speech sounds, research suggests.

The more years of practice during childhood, the faster the brain response was, the small study found.

The Journal of Neuroscience work looked at 44 people in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

The volunteers listened to a synthesised speech syllable, “da”, while researchers measured electrical activity in the region of the brain that processes sound information – the auditory brainstem.

Despite none of the study participants having played an instrument in nearly 40 years, those who completed between four and 14 years of music training early in life had a faster response to the speech sound than those who had never been taught music.

Researcher Michael Kilgard, of Northwestern University, said: “Being a millisecond faster may not seem like much, but the brain is very sensitive to timing and a millisecond compounded over millions of neurons can make a real difference in the lives of older adults.”

As people grow older, they often experience changes in the brain that compromise hearing. For instance, the brains of older adults show a slower response to fast-changing sounds, which is important for interpreting speech.

Musical training may help offset this, according to Dr Kilgard’s study.

It could be that learning an instrument in childhood causes a fixed change in the brain that is retained throughout life.

Or, music classes somehow prepare the brain for future auditory learning, say the researchers.

Past work by the same team found younger adults were better listeners if they had been taught an instrument as a child.

Experts also believe musical training – with an emphasis on rhythmic skills – can exercise the auditory-system.

But these studies are all relatively small and cannot ascertain if it is definitely musical training that is causing the effect.

Arguably, children offered the opportunity to learn an instrument, which can be expensive, may come from more privileged backgrounds and this may have an influence.

Source BBC News

Forget brain training: Playing a musical instrument can sharpen your thoughts – and help ward off depression and dementia

Playing a musical instrument could help protect against mental decline through age or illness, according to a new study.

Researchers at St Andrews University found that musicians have sharper minds and are able to pick up and correct mistakes quicker than non-musicians.

Musicians also responded faster than those with little or no musical training, with no loss in accuracy, the study found.

Playing a musical instrument, such as a piano pictured, could help protect against mental decline through age or illness.

Playing a musical instrument, such as a piano pictured, could help protect against mental decline through age or illness.

Researchers at St Andrews University found musicians have sharper minds and are able to pick up and correct mistakes quicker than non-musicians, and with no loss of accuracy

The researchers measured the behavioural and brain responses of amateur musicians compared with non-musicians when performing simple mental tasks.

The results showed that playing a musical instrument, even at moderate levels, improves a person’s ability to detect errors and adjust responses more effectively.

The research was led by psychologist Ines Jentzsch, a reader in the university’s School of Psychology and Neuroscience.

‘Our study shows that even moderate levels of musical activity can benefit brain functioning,’ she said.

‘Our findings could have important implications as the processes involved are amongst the first to be affected by ageing, as well as a number of mental illnesses such as depression.

‘The research suggests that musical activity could be used as an effective intervention to slow, stop or even reverse age or illness-related decline in mental functioning.’

The study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, builds on previous work showing the benefits of musical activity on mental and physical well-being.

Pianist Dr Jentzsch said: ‘Musical activity cannot only immensely enrich our lives but the associated benefits for our physical and mental functioning could be even more far-reaching than proposed in our and previous research.’

Source Mail Online

Listening to music is good for the heart

Listening to music has long been seen as a remedy for heartbreak.

Now a study has found that in fact music can strengthen the heart – and improve the recovery of patients suffering from heart disease.

Cardiologists said the findings suggested that all people could boost the health of their hearts simply by listening to their favourite tunes.

Patients with cardiac disease were divided into three groups. Some were enrolled in exercise classes for three weeks.

Others were put in the same classes, but also told to listen to music of their choice at any point for 30 minutes every day.

A third group only listened to music, and did not take cardio-vascular exercise, which is usually prescribed to those with heart disease.

At the end of the trial, the patients who had listened to music as well as exercising had boosted crucial measures of heart function significantly, and improved their exercise capacity by 39 per cent.

The group which only took aerobic exercise improved their capacity by 29 per cent.

Even those who took no exercise and only listened to their favourite music for half an hour a day improved their exercise function by 19 per cent, the study of 74 patients found.

The measures of improved heart function included improved endothelial function, which is necessary to maintain the body’s vascular response.

The findings, presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual congress in Amsterdam, suggested that the release of key hormones while listening to music was behind the changes.

Prof Delijanin Ilic, the lead investigator, from the Institute of Cardiology, University of Nis, Serbia, said: “When we listen to music we like then endorphins are released from the brain and this improves our vascular health. There is no ‘best music’ for everyone – what matters is what the person likes and makes them happy.”

She said other studies examining the impact of music suggested there might be some types of music which were less good for the heart – with heavy metal more likely to raise stress levels, while opera, classical and other types of ‘joyful’ music were more likely to stimulate endorphins.

Prof Ilic said: “It is also possible that it is better to have music without words, because it is possible that the words themselves can upset the emotions.”

Although the study was carried out on patients suffering from heart disease, she said she believed the findings were likely to apply to a wider population, since it is already known that exercise boosts coronary health in healthy people.

Prof Ilic said: “Listening to favourite music alone and in addition to regular exercise training improves endothelial function and therefore may be an adjunct method in the rehabilitation of patients with coronary artery disease. There is no ‘ideal’ music for everybody and patients should choose music which increases positive emotions and makes them happy or relaxed.”

Source The Telegraph