Dementia generally occurs amongst the aged. The symptoms include dysphoria, loss of memory, and failure to recognize loved ones. With the boomer population now coming into their seventies, and life expectancy continuing to rise across the world, we as a society will soon be faced with a different kind of pandemic: Dementia.
There is presently no cure for dementia, but there are some tricks to keeping the love alive and helping those who are burdened with this unfortunate disease. The first is improvisation. If your loved one says “We’re at Woodstock, you are my best friend, and the Jimi Hendrix is about to play!”, engage their realty. Do not reject it. Play with them in that space. Say “Yes” and then add to it. (e.g. “I know! I’m so excited this is my first time seeing Jimi!”) This technique is widely accepted to reduce depression.
Music as Medicine
Another great way to soothe Dementia is Music. A charity called Music for Dementia focuses on studying and supplying music to help those with this condition. Their studies show music can dramatically improve a patient’s situation and quality of life. Once again it seems, music is the best drug.
Beyond simple reduction in depressive symptoms. Music was found to have significantly improved speech content and fluency when tested against those who were only given conversation. Music improved quality of life and allowed for patients to connect over shared common memories of a song.
Patients partaking in the music therapy study were quoted saying, “Music is my memories. I really enjoy talking to my friends here about music and bands.”
The National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) has just received a large sum of funding to further the prescribing of music therapy across the UK. The CEO of the NASP was quoted saying.
With everything going on we must remember to love one another, and it seems like there is never a better time for music and engagement to step in and take the hand of those in need.