For many people with moderate to severe dementia some of the toughest parts of the day can be doing the everyday things such as bathing, getting dressed, mealtimes, etc. Staff within care facilities and those looking after relatives at home report that these necessary daily tasks can be upsetting for a person with dementia, and lead to challenging behaviour and emotional disturbance. These are some suggestions for how you can use music as part of the daily routine with someone living with dementia:
- Sing with the person- the interaction created by singing could be a welcome distraction for a person with dementia. Singing together provides a bond, a shared experience that may increase relaxation and prevent the escalation of challenging behaviour.
- Familiar music is best. People with dementia often remember music from the younger years of their lives and tunes may have memories attached to them. Singing familiar music will make a person feel more at ease and comfortable than music which they have no relation too. Singing familiar music may also spark of conversation in which a person may talk about when and where they have herd music, and also why they like it and why it is special to them.
- Play music at meal times- Music at meal times can make a person feel more comfortable and relaxed and thus able to eat. Many people with dementia find it hard to eat in a room with lots of people because of noise, but music could have a settling effect on the whole room!
- Relaxing music for bath times- It is easier to personalise music choice for bath time or getting dressed than with communal mealtimes.
- What about using song as a way of describing what task is taking place? A good example of this could be a tooth brushing song. This may motivate a person with Dementia to complete every day tasks and feel secure in situations which may induce anxiety.
- Participating in music gives a person an emotional outlet a way of communicating emotion, and this can be vital if a persons ability to express themselves through speech has been weakened or lost.
This is a very inspiring narrative written by Sally Magnusson on her experience with her Music and her mother who had Alzheimer’s disease.