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Four ways in which music can help with Alzheimer’s

video of a son driving his father around whilst they sing along together to some music has gone ‘viral’ on the internet reaching almost 1 million views in under a month. Ted McDermott – also known as ‘The Songaminute Man’ – was a musical performer and entertainer who was diagnosed with dementia in 2013. His son, Simon McDermott, who has raised over £100,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society, has said that he found that the singing helps to bring his Dad back and allows them to re-connect. Increasingly music is being acknowledged as having an important role in helping those with Alzheimer’s and those who care and love them. Here are 4 reasons to turn up the radio:

1) Great way to evoke memories

Music moves us and in stirring out emotions it can help bring back memories. As the brilliant neurologist Oliver Sacks said:

“Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory… it brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can,”

Alive Inside is a documentary released in 2012 that explores how music helps people with dementia “come alive” much like Ted McDermott did with his son.

2) Socialise and express emotions

People with dementia can at later stages find it difficult to express their emotions. Music provides a medium to assist this expression and when done in a group can lead to socializing with others. This can be so important to people with dementia who can feel increasingly isolated. The Alzheimer’s Society have set up an excellent service called ‘Singing for the Brain’ to bring people together to sing and socialize.

3) Sing-a-longs to stimulate the brain

Music is engaging and even more so when you sing a long. This can stimulate the brain and enable patients to use a little more mind power than usual in a fun activity. Stimulating the brain is important because it may help develop protective mechanisms to cope with any damage to the brain and indeed a study in 2010 suggests it may help generate memories as well as recall them.

4) Dance

Dancing to music can not only provide a space to enable people with dementia to express themselves with their body but also encourages physical and emotional intimacy. This can be so important for maintain the connection between them and their loved ones and carers. In addition, whether it’s just bopping in a chair or jumping up on your feet it provides a great way to do some exercise.

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