Care Homes Celebrate Vera Lynn’s 100th Birthday
Care homes around the country sang out to celebrate the centenary of a musical icon whilst harnessing the power of song to benefit residents.
Care homes in Kingston, Surrey, Stroud and around the country held singalongs on March 20 to mark the 100th birthday of wartime legend Vera Lynn. Many homes invited local people and choirs to join residents for the celebrations.
Many of the care homes’ residents grew up to the music of Vera Lynn, and the celebratory singalongs are likely to have evoked happy memories for even those suffering from dementia.
Music and Dementia Care
Music can be extremely beneficial in dementia care homes, as it can be a powerful tool in prompting memories. Even dementia sufferers who struggle to access many memories can often recall pieces of music or songs. Non-verbal people can often sing, clap or tap their feet when music or songs they remember are played.
Music also has the power to soothe and calm, and with predictions suggesting that there will be more than one million people with dementia by 2021, it is a tool that is likely to become increasingly important as the need for dementia and Alzheimer’s care grows.
In Tune with the Brain
Music, especially song, is widely accepted as being able to unlock memories and reach areas of the brain that other types of communication cannot get to.
Professor Paul Robertson, an academic and concert violinist who conducted a study on the link between music and dementia care, said that music remains a channel of communication on some level at all stages of life in most people.
Many residential homes now include singing sessions as part of their care services, and organisations such as Live Music Now, Golden Oldies, Lost Chord, Music for Life and Singing for the Brain have made it possible for residents to benefit from live music.
The results of these music sessions can often bring renewed confidence and an interest in life, and the benefits do not end there. Many researchers believe that music can have physical effects as well as emotional and psychological ones as brain activity is boosted.
Reasons Why Music Works
Recent research suggests that the following five reasons may be instrumental in allowing music to offer so many benefits.
1. Music can evoke emotions which are accompanied by memories that may not be easily accessible otherwise.
2. Musical appreciation and aptitude are amongst the final abilities retained by dementia patients.
3. It can bring physical and emotional closeness, which can have a huge spectrum of benefits, including renewed confidence and reduced loneliness.
4. Singing is engaging, and the brain stimulation means that people can exercise their minds in an enjoyable way.
5. Music can improve moods, decrease stress and encourage positive interactions amongst dementia sufferers, their friends, family and carers.